Women in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Play Advocate Kisha Reid! by Mike Prochaska

Women in Early Childhood Education: My Interview With Play Advocate Kisha Reid!

Kisha Reid lives in Frederick, Md., but her school is located in a small town called Poolesville, about 30 minutes south of the city I live in. Kisha has always felt a connection to children. “Even from a young age I remember really connecting with younger children in my neighborhood and in my family,” she says. “When I entered high school and found out there was a class called Child Development, I jumped on the chance to spend my days with preschool age children in an on-sight preschool. My teacher saw my passion and later recommended me for a job at one of the local centers. I began as an aide at age 14. I have not looked back since.”

Kisha spends her days in the classroom at a small, play-based preschool called Discovery Early Learning Center. “It’s located in the heart of a small town in the agricultural reserve. The children in my mixed-age classroom are 2 to 5 years old.” Read on to learn more about Kisha…

Q. Why is play important for children?

"Play is important for children because play is how humans develop as people. Play allows children to naturally develop physically, cognitively, emotionally and socially over time and through experience. Without play a child can not properly develop. It is vital in the life of EVERY child. I think that the thing about outside play that is important is that it happens, that is happens daily and for long stretches of time, that it happens no matter the weather and that it happens with a sense of freedom and autonomy. Yes, it is important!"

Q. What is your favorite memory working with kids?

"This is a hard one for me, I have so many, but I am going to pick one that was the aha moment that totally changed my practice early on in my career. It was after a child had an emotionally explosive episode. He was sitting on my lap and in my arms on the floor of the classroom. I had my arms wrapped around him from the back, both of our chests puffing in and out rapidly, almost in rhythm, our hearts seemed to beat loud enough to hear it outside of our bodies. In that moment I felt connected [and] I realized my role. I remember beginning to take deep breaths. I think it was the first time I was really, really mindful of how much power I had in moment of emotional free fall for this child. I realized that needed me to stay calm, to just be with him. After this, I was forever changed."

Q. What is your favorite book to read to the classroom?

"There is a version of 'Little Red Riding Hood' that I really enjoy reading. I enjoy it because it sparks so many ideas and questions from the children. It forces them to consider the perspectives of all of the characters in the book. They want to know how the characters feel; a sense of empathy is explored for the sick grandma, the girl who goes to visit and even the Big Bad Wolf at the end. I also LOVE to do the voices and take on the characteristics of each character in this tale. It’s a really fun one to tell without a book as well."

Q. What is your favorite activities to do with kids? 

"I really enjoy discovering new life in the springtime alongside children. They have such a keen eye, it pulls you in to really focus on the natural world through their eyes. There is something about the connection for develop when you sit digging in the dirt."

Q. What about roughhousing with kids? 

"YES!!! And I love it. As a child I remember really enjoying this type of play myself. Heck, I still enjoy it as an adult."

Q. What do men bring to the classroom?

"Over the years I have worked alongside many men, I am not sure they have advantages in this field, but I do remember a time a man came to interview at a center who had an all-female staff. I recall the buzz that crept through the halls. We were all hopeful that he would join the team to add new perspective. For me, personally, working alongside men in camp settings added a very playful perspective to my practice. I saw a childlike excitement in the eyes of the men who spent their days alongside the children."

To learn more, check out Kisha Reid's An Advocate for Play-based Schools page and watch her podcast, Keeping It Real With Kisha

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