DEAR FRIENDS OF THE PLAYING FIELD,
This issue includes highlights from our Spring celebrations. In April, we honored children during Week of the Young Child. In May, we honored teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week which ended with gifts for moms in celebration of Mother’s Day.
The last year has certainly presented each of us with many challenges, but we also have much to be grateful for! It is a credit to our supporters that we have been able to thrive over the last 13 months— not only providing high quality care and early education at our original location but, expanding to a second site as well.
Please know that your support of our work makes it all possible! We are grateful to each of you for your interest in our unique mode for child care!
I hope that spring is bringing each of you new hope and much happiness.
Week of the Young Child
April 10-16 was National Week of the Young Child. This week is set aside each year to celebrate children and to recommit ourselves to ensuring each of them has early experiences to support their development. This always provides the opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of our work and to take pause to consider what children truly need.
While some believe the focus of early childhood should be preparing for school, research tells us that the early years should actually focus on preparing children for life. During the first years, children learn who they are, how they relate to others, and how they will see the world. They also develop their abilities to motivate themselves, and manage stress for the rest of their lives.
These are not lessons that we teach from a book. The minute by minute interactions that infants and young children have with their attuned caregivers build the his sense of self, of others, and of the world around her. These “lessons” take place in the unhurried, unstructured moments of childhood.
Our name “The Playing Field” has two meanings. Of course, we want to level the playing field and provide equity in early education opportunities; but, we also want to honor the rights of children to play.
The amazing teachers at The Playing Field created many ways for children to play and to be celebrated!
Two of our favorite volunteers, Junko Yamauchi Stewart and Dan Wenzel performed for children on MUSIC MONDAY. Everyone made and wore tie dye shirts for TYE DIE TUESDAY. We saw some crazy hairdos and outfits on WACKY WEDNESDAY. For THRILLING CHILLING THURSDAY, both staff and children enjoyed ice cream treats.
FAMILY FRIDAY is normally the day we host a breakfast for children and their families. However, due to COVID, we couldn’t yet gather together so, we had to be creative. Children decorated white lunch bags for their parents and parents did the same for their children. Our amazing cook, Emme Thorpe then filled the bags with breakfast and parents took theirs to go.
We look forward to resuming our regular family gatherings soon!
UW Occupational Therapy Students Help The Playing Field
The Playing Field addresses many barriers faced by low income families in accessing high quality early education programs. For many, transportation can be a barrier.
Our partnership with Reach Dane (Early Head Start) provides transportation for our midtown location. Our bus travels the entire city each morning and each afternoon, picking up children at homes, shelters, and hotels. We are very grateful for this opportunity to serve children and families in Madison.
This year, when we were approached by professor, Elizabeth Larson about working with Occupational Therapy students, we asked them to help us improve our ability to support children on the bus rides.
After riding the bus and observing children, the students researched our model and our social emotional program, Conscious Discipline. They incorporated fine and gross motor experiences into our social emotional learning plans. In addition, the students created visual cues for children to follow along the route to help them understand who was getting on or off the bus and when their own turn would come.
We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with students of Occupational Therapy. Last year, they helped us to plan our sensory path which is currently under construction. We look forward to sharing that in our next issue!
National Teacher Appreciation Week
The first week of May is Teacher Appreciation Week. The board, leadership, and parents at The Playing Field joined together to honor our amazing teachers and assistant teachers. Each day had a different theme— from Muffin Monday to Fabulous Friday, we made efforts to assure that our staff felt valued and celebrated.
Over the last year, early educators have faced the challenges of the pandemic with dedication. I have been inspired by their willingness to serve children and families, even when there were many unanswered questions, constant changes, and serious risks.
Our week-long celebration had a super hero theme because our teachers have been nothing less than heroes this year. Their presence and care for children made it possible for many parents to continue working. In addition, their strong attachments with children offered a buffer against the adversity of the pandemic.
Please join us in thanking the staff of The Playing Field as well as all teachers in early care and education.