When we brought Arthur home from the hospital, both Julia and I had shared strong feelings of wanting the best for him. This is normal for parents to feel. After a year of mat leave, the hardest thing for Julia was giving him over to someone else to raise. I was right there with her on that that too. With hearts wide open, children absorb their environment and the actors within in, sponging up whatever that environment is. If we want to raise children to stand tall and strong, they need a deep foundation. They also need fewer screens and more outdoors time.
It was with this in mind that triggered a high degree of anxiety when looking for a daycare for Arthur. However, the universe shined light on this for us, after the last daycare that Julia called that first day returned our call, indicating there was an opening. We took a deep look at the website, went to visit, and were a little stunned with what we found.
An ECE III (Early Childhood Educator Level 3), Cheryl raised five kids of her own. She has been raising kids in her daycare for 21 years. Her child care environment is meticulously created with child-size play facilities, and occupies the entire first floor of her house. Her philosophy of child care is as follows:
I believe that a childcare program should be modified to meet the specific needs of the children in care. Each child is a unique individual and requires a flexible program that responds to their needs and strengths and allows them to achieve their developmental potential.
My program is constantly changing depending on the ages, abilities and support needs of the children currently enrolled in my care. Activities are adapted to include all children regardless of their age, gender, beliefs or abilities.
Curiosity, discovery, creativity, cooperation and independence are fostered through play-based activities, active exploration and meaningful learning opportunities. I strive to include activities and experiences that allow all the children to develop socially, physically, emotionally and cognitively.
And you know what? She delivered. As two parents who care deeply about what their child is doing at daycare, we couldn’t be happier having Cheryl as our son’s caregiver. She has embodied her philosophy every step of every day. She has been proactive, informative and fun. Arthur has a deep trust for her. This speaks volumes. She has kept him outside, interested and playing outdoors getting to know the bugs, birds and trees. They go for near daily walks, spend time in free, risky play, and creating with loose parts both inside and out
As our family prepares to move into Whole Village, Arthur has already been prepared for a more natural, harmonious life within a cooperative community. He hasn’t been raised with screens, and his curiosity is high. He’s used to being outdoors, he’s social and likes people.
Thoughtful and careful, Cheryl has delivered beyond our wildest dreams. And it feels so right. She’s been our greatest resource on our son, suggestive when we request it, but never pushing anything. I really can’t say enough good things about her.
She is a member of the Manitoba Child Care Association’s Board of Directors, and is the chairperson of the MCCA Family Child Care Committee. She’s smart, engaged, active and compassionate.
It was also by way of a question when she asked me to submit a request for proposal about what ecovillages are for NatureSummit that she started a small snowball rolling that I have picked up and been running with for a few years. In 2016 I presented my first presentation about ecovillages at NatureSummit. I have presented several since then, learning lots and enjoying getting to know more people with ecovillage interests in Manitoba.
Cheryl, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for everything you’ve done for our family, for helping raise our son. It will be so very different not having your influence on Arthur. Thank you for giving him that foundation, for creating the roots of empathy and trunk of resilience. We will miss you.