Early Education Plantation Giveaway!


Early Education Plantation has been up and running for just over six months!  We have been gaining followers, and I have been receiving likes and comments all over Facebook and LinkedIn!

I wanted to celebrate and say thank you by doing a giveaway this week!

Like, share, comment, or follow to be entered to win a paperback edition of the book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Steve Covey, one of my favorites!

Stephen R. Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®, has been a top-seller for the simple reason that it ignores trends and pop psychology for proven principles of fairness, integrity, honesty, and human dignity. Celebrating its fifteenth year of helping people solve personal and professional problems, this special anniversary edition includes a new foreword and afterword written by Covey exploring the question of whether the 7 Habits are still relevant and answering some of the most common questions he has received over the past 15 years.

The winner will be announced on the blog posted 10.11.  If you’re out of the area don’t fret, I am happy to mail it to you!

Stop Pushing and Create Balance for Children


I *knew* a lot about child development before I had any training or children of my own.

I was convinced that children could be geniuses if adults took the time to introduce them to as much as possible.  Young children should be in dance class, spoken to in dual languages, handed tiny violins, and have regimented schedules to become better people.

When I had been working with preschoolers for a couple of years my son Noah was born.  I was convinced I had a handle on this child development thing.  Three days after we returned home from the hospital, I was laying with him on his bedroom floor exhausted, and had completely lost my voice.  It occurred to me that for the past 72 hours I had been constantly singing, reading, and talking to the young lad, to the point of no longer being able to speak.  I was going to make sure he had a “leg up” in life.  In my mind at the time, I guess that meant me incessantly imparting my wisdom onto his tiny infant consciousness.  Manic parenting.  This is when I started to back off and research what was actually best practice in childhood development.

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” – William Butler Yeats

I can relate to the intense, young, and involved parents that we have as early childhood educators.  I have never forgotten the fervor with which I read, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” and trying my very best to be sure that my kids would feel happy, loved, cared for, and prepared for life.  There should balance in all things. As educators we need to be mindful of balancing expectations of parents, meeting student learning goals, and utilizing what we know is best for children.

Children need a variety of experiences

Children should be introduced to many different learning adventures.  This is not for the expectation of creating mini-Mozarts or soccer stars.  In the early learning years it is more important to plant the seed for appreciation.  This will result in a more open minded adult in the future, and their interests will develop naturally.

Children need down time

Children should have periods of time to entertain themselves.  They should have the opportunity to look for things to do, or simply choose to do nothing.  This gives children the time to think, which leads to the ability to sort out their world and their feelings.

Children need creative time

The best types of learning are balanced between adult-led and child-led.  Utilizing only one or the other will short change children on a broader range of learning experiences.  Sometimes the sky is purple, and that is ok.

Children need expressive time

Children must have a lot of time to communicate about what they are thinking and feeling. Constantly being told to be quiet and sit down can have many negative outcomes.  Children can become disengaged in their environment, lose self-confidence, and will not form important emotional bonds with the adults around them.

Battling the myth of the super school/super teacher/ super parent

If we are led by self-awareness and observation of the children we work with, we will get it right.  There will be families who will wonder why we are outside so much, and others who say we are not outside enough.  There will be those who are upset that we allow the children to nap, and others who are grateful. You don’t have to be Mary Poppins to be a good early childhood educator.  You need to be invested in your students, respectful of them and their families, and act in their best interest.

Noah is fourteen and doing quite well.  I still find myself talking “at” him, trying to prepare him for what he will face in the years ahead.  I have gotten better about listening to him, and giving him space to just be “Noah.”  And Noah is a pretty amazing guy!

How Being a Community Theatre Actor Made Me a (Formerly) Terrible Boss: 5 Simple Steps for Great Leadership

Blank book white cover 5,5 x 8 in

This is an excerpt taken from my Ebook of the same name

The following addresses part of my journey to being an effective leader in early childhood education and a no longer terrible boss. It does poke fun at the leadership examples I had as a youth in community theatre. I fully believe we are shaped not only by our experiences, but the way we choose to react to them. It is meant to challenge what we accept as “normal” in leadership, and how we can all strive to exceed those expectations.

Anyone who has ever participated in sports, a club, or performing arts has probably dealt with poor leadership.

“No that’s WRONG!” is barked by an authority figure. “I don’t care if you had a bad day, you leave it at the door and give me RESULTS!”

I started acting in community theatre at the age of twelve. My first show I was cast in a huge ensemble for Hello Dolly. One of the youngest in the cast, I knew this was a big moment to prove myself. My first day of rehearsal, the director gave me my initial blocking to walk from one side of the stage to the other.

“WRONG!” She screamed in front of the group. “Wrong, wrong, wrong! Nobody walks like that!” My eyes filled with tears, and I tried again. Over the next twenty years, treatment like that would be rampant in productions I was involved in.

From the standpoint of the early childhood educator, we would never approach our students this way. Hopefully, you would also not approach your staff or coworkers this way. Even without that level of drama, there is a grey area that we can find ourselves in when interacting with our coworkers. “Just do what I asked!” “Why don’t you understand this is the correct way to do it?”

In the performing arts world, there is a tremendous expectation to do everything right the first time. The same can be true in the world of early childhood education. Our profession lends itself to high stress, where imperfections can lead to loss of clients, loss of staff, and possibly the loss of license. Our environment can also be difficult for communication, as we balance the needs of parents, staff, students, and day to day operations.

It is not particularly fun for me to call myself a formerly terrible boss. It might not be entirely fair either, but I do know that I had a tremendous growth process. Everything from trying to do it all myself, to telling employees to leave their personal problems at home, to thinking that if employees were educated and experienced they would just “do it right.”

5 Simple Steps for Great Leadership

  1. Provide division of labor. Delegate the what, how, and why to help engage and motivate your team.
  2. Self-analyze. If you are fair, honest, and acting in the best interest of those on your team and your student’s, then you are leading in the right way.
  3. Communicate. Utilize public praise and private correction. Discover the conflict style and appreciation languages of your team. Provide many different types of opportunity for communication.
  4. Inspire your team through professional development. As education professionals we should never stop learning. The teacher who can no longer learn should no longer teach.
  5. Advocate to fuel change. The only way that the challenges in the early childhood education system will ever be addressed is through increased awareness.

It took me nineteen years to figure out why the way I walked across the stage in Hello Dolly was “wrong.” I had been in ballet training since age three, and had been taught to walk like a dancer, much too fluid and exaggerated. This type of feedback was not offered to me.

As a leader in early childhood education, it is important to follow these five simple steps for leadership. It will create a supportive team atmosphere that people are excited to be a part of.

Exclusive Podcast Interview: Kayla Klein

Kayla 12.16.15

Check out my latest podcast interview with Kayla Klein, Executive Director of Northern Hills Alliance for Children First Step Child Care Center in Deadwood and Fort Meade.  Tune in to learn more about Kayla, the Northern Hills Alliance for Children, tips for starting a non-profit, and about Kayla’s experience as a leader in early childhood education.

To tune in now, click here

If you have any questions or comments for Kayla, you can leave them in the comment area or shoot her an email at director@nhfirststep.com. For more information about the Northern Hills Alliance for Children or First Step Child Care, you can visit their website at http://www.nhfirststep.com/

As always, feel free to post in the comment area or email me at educationplantation@gmail.com

For more information about the Zombie Fun Run coming up Saturday, September 24th, 2016, visit www.walkingdeadwood.com

Kayla Klein, Executive Director Northern Hills Alliance for Children First Step Child Care

5 Steps to Implementing Lean Education: Saving Schools Time and Money


Check this out!  I was a guest contributor this past week to the amazing blog Fractus Learning.

So for MY blog this week, I want to direct you to my article there, which is all about using the Lean Concept in Education!  I encourage you to browse around at the many other compelling posts by other authors.

For my article click here: 5 Steps to Implementing Lean Education: Saving Schools Time and Money

Feature image courtesy of Flickr, US Department of Education.