Women in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Home Daycare Owner Melinda Marshall by Mike Prochaska
Melinda Marshall runs a home daycare called Mountaintop Family Childcare in a small town in upstate central New York, tucked away in the woods on a one-lane dirt road in the mountains. “I am a licensed family child care provider in my home,” says Melinda. “My daughter-in-law works with me, and we care for 16 children in a mixed-age program from 6 weeks old to 12 years old each day.” Read on to learn more about Melinda…
Q. Why is play important for children?
“Play is essential to the healthy development of young children because it contributes to their cognitive, physical, social and emotional well-being. True, uninterrupted, child driven play is how children learn best.”
Q. What’s your favorite memory working with kids?
“It would be too hard to choose a favorite memory because there are so many! Some of my favorite moments though are when I’m down in town for a community gathering or sometimes even just driving by on Main St., and children who have grown and moved on from my program spot me and run up and give me a hug or run along the sidewalk yelling and waving as my car goes by.”
Q. What’s your favorite book to read to the classroom?
Q. What’s your favorite activities to do with your kids?
“As aspiring homesteaders, we grow much of our own food here on our property. Some of MY favorite activities to do with the children are tapping trees in the early spring for making maple syrup, working in the greenhouse growing our vegetables, gathering eggs from the chicken coop and apple season when we collect apples for pressing. I also enjoy taking the children out for long walks in the woods, stopping to explore and discover all nature has to offer.”
Q. Anything inspiring to tell anyone thinking of going into this field?
“Working with young children is oftentimes a lot of hard work, but is rewarding and healing as well. I used to believe I was drawn to this field because children needed me. After almost two decades of living and working with young children in my home, I’m realizing it was me who needed them all along. I am a better person because of each and every child that has been in my home, my program and my heart.”
Q. What do men bring to classroom?
“In our personal experience as family child-care providers, my husband and two boys (now one being a teenager and one being grown) have always been a part of our program, and continue to do so. They have spent timing sharing their interests with the children over the years, playing with them and helping out in any way they can. Having males in early childhood education is important. Men can bring a different perspective, which includes different styles of learning, playing, caring for and relating to children.
“I also believe having men in care giving roles also helps break down the stereotypes typically seen in ECE and also gives the children positive role models to look up to.”
Q. Anything else you would like to share?
“I know its cliché to say, but the days are long and the years are short. People working in the ECE field daily need to embrace the importance of self-care, slow down, let go of the unimportant things and remember the magic of their own childhoods.”
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