May is child care month in British Columbia
The government of British Columbia annually proclaims the month of May as Child Care
Month to celebrate the work of thousands of caring and committed childcare
providers and early childhood educators throughout the province.
(source: Victoria Child Care Resource and Referral, Spring 2013 newsletter)
In past years, a search would quickly provide loads of information relating to what we do, why we do it and how best to celebrate it: events, award ceremonies, caregiver appreciation days, animated videos to promote child care, statements by important people and all. This year seems to be different.... scant bits like the quote above show up in the odd newsletter but that seems to be all can find for "May is Child Care Month in B.C. 2013" and every variation of it (and search engine) imaginable! While the annual award nomination forms still arrived in the mail, there seems to be little else to be found for this year. Previous years, sure.... but not for 2013!
My first reaction was to wonder how that was possible. To the best of my recollection, in my 20 years of working in the ECE profession in BC, May has been Child Care Month. I have the buttons, posters and letters from the Ministry to prove it. Have we stopped celebrating child care? Should we, as caregiver and early childhood educators, be concerned?
Then I realized something else entirely. Until I read that very quote, I had never truly understood what Child Care Month was actually all about! In the most basic and fundamental ways, I have misunderstood this month of celebrating every single year of my career. Wow! All these years TreeFrog has celebrated child care month by acknowledging the families and children we provide care for and by helping to educate the public about the importance of learning through play- articles in the local paper, bulletin boards, open houses, and more- all for these purposes. And while I have made certain to treat our amazing caregivers to chocolate, coffee and thanks on Caregiver Appreciation Day, that has been the extent of it for them... and really, that happens on a fairly regular basis anyway , simply because they are a great staff! How did I have no idea this month was actually intended to be all about US??? And now, when I have only just discovered this, NOW it all but vanishes???? ...... WAIT!!!!!
I began to feel a bit letdown, a bit disgruntled. All these years while we were busy celebrating everyone else it should have been all about us. How had I missed this? How had our families? Our Board of Directors? And no- it has not failed to occur to me that since my role was to keep these people educated; they naturally thought what I thought, but really....
Still, anyone who has ever met an ECE knows that revised ideas and Plan B thinking are kind of our superpower. So I rallied. I wrote an acknowledgement for our children and families to put in the local paper, I continued searching for information to share, and I posted an animated video to our Facebook Page... because I realized something else that was far more important- I am an Early Childhood Educator and I am a Caregiver. And in order for me and the rest of The Frog teachers to be either of those things we need children to care for, to nurture, to educate, to love... and in order for us to have those children in our care, we must first have families who see the value in what we do, families who trust in our abilities. So they must also be celebrated, whether May is actually Child Care Month or not this year!
This final realization made it all clear to me.
As an Early Childhood Educator and a Caregiver, Child Care Month as it is defined above means very little to me- and the same is likely true of any other ECE or Caregiver you ask. No government proclamation that designates a month to appreciating our work will ever mean more than the spontaneous hugs, the excitement, the pictures, the stories, the pure and sincere “I love yous” we get from these children. EVER. And the absence of that proclamation (or my failed search skill?!?) will never diminish the sense of fulfillment and pride in our work that comes from a parent trusting our knowledge enough to consult with us about their child’s development, or letting us know that their child talks about what we taught them and how much they adore us…. or simply bringing us a coffee!
When a child tells you that you smell like bubble gum, when a parent hugs you and thanks you at the end of the day, when the phone rings and the voice on the other end says “everyone says we will love it there…. can we enroll our child right away?”, when teenagers who attended as children come back to visit with their fond memories…. well really, this list could go on forever…. These are the moments we celebrate. And these are the moments we feel appreciated and celebrated.
So whether May is or it isn’t Child Care month this year, doesn’t much matter. We don’t need a month. We have every day. The caregivers at TreeFrog are fortunate enough to be inspired to grow each day- and for that we celebrate the children, the families, the daycare we work in and each other… all year! ~ lisa