Dear Friends of The Playing Field,
The fall season has been busy for our School Family.
In September, our midtown location celebrated it’s sixth anniversary and our East side location celebrated it’s first.
The Playing Field was founded with the belief that all children deserve access to a high-quality early educational experience. For the last six years, we have focused on building a model that addresses many barriers faced by families. Lack of child care often mean families miss out on employment or educational opportunities so, high-quality, reliable child care is essential to families and especially to those facing housing insecurity.
One often overlooked barrier is that of preschool expulsion. It is estimated that 250 preschoolers are suspended or expelled every day. For those outside the field of early care and education, this number may seem high. However, those within the field can easily attest to this.
Over the summer, we enrolled two year old twins who had been repeatedly excluded from other programs. One center expelled them after only 45 minutes. Their mother was left feeling hopeless and unable to maintain employment— until she found The Playing Field. Our staff had the training, resources, and support to help this family.
Preschool expulsions not only impede the parents’ ability to work, but they start the child on a journey of being separated and set aside. This changes the way she sees herself, how she relates to others, and how she manages emotions.
I encourage you to view this video produced by Conscious Discipline®. It illustrates why traditional methods of discipline fail our most at risk children and set the stage for school violence.
To each staff person, board member, and supporter, thank you! Your contributions are making it possible for us to build an inclusive model for early care and education!
Our School Family includes many children impacted by homelessness and other early adversity. Child behaviors associated with early trauma are often difficult for traditional child care settings to manage. Traditional models for early care often exclude children with difficult behaviors. This means the children who are most in need of high quality care are often least likely to have access.
The Playing Field has demonstrated how children impacted by trauma can be included in a healthy School Family where each child has their individual needs met. Keys to our success have been the investment in extensive staff training and the implementation of Conscious Discipline®.
During the summer and fall, we were able to send six staff members to a week long Conscious Discipline Institute. Two staff members also attended as helpers and had the opportunity to lead other educators.
In September, Conscious Discipline Master Instructor Kim Jackson presented a virtual training to our staff. She was joined by Conscious Discipline founder, Dr. Becky Bailey, presenting how fear impacts the brain.
In October, our Executive Director, Abbi Kruse presented to the staff on creating balance. It gave them the opportunity to examine the powers of Conscious Discipline as a tool for self care. Conscious Discipline Master Instructor, Jill Molli also provided helpful support in preparation of this training.
With our focused professional development plan, all staff receive extensive training on the social emotional development of children.
- During their first year, classroom staff participate in a ten session eCourse. Time is provided for them to practice and reflect on the material. Classroom coaching is provided to assist teachers in implementing new practices.
- Upon completion of the eCourse, staff can apply to attend the week-long Conscious Discipline event. There is a substantial investment which includes tuition, travel costs, and hiring substitute teachers. However, the benefits to our children and their teachers are worth it!
- Teachers are then asked to develop a model classroom with full implementation of Conscious Discipline. Model rooms provide opportunities for new staff and other educators to observe Conscious Discipline practices as part of their own learning.
- Staff who have successfully created a model classroom can then apply for a position as a Mentor Teacher. In this role, they help other teachers implement new practices. In addition, teaching others supports Mentor Teachers in their own professional growth.
We are grateful for our staff who have taken this journey with us and grown their skills to support social emotional learning. We are also thankful for our generous supporters and board of directors who understand the importance of investing in staff development!
The current space is a temporary stop on our way to a much larger location. Our dream is to replicate the model of our midtown site which includes children from a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds. To maintain a diverse enrollment, we reserve spaces for children based on funding sources including private tuition, child care subsidy, scholarships, and funding for children impacted by homelessness.
Our east side site is partnering with The Road Home and The Plumbers Union Local 75 to offer early care and education, stable, affordable housing, and adult job training opportunities in a coordinated effort.
The Plumbers Union has purchased the former Menard’s building on East Springs Drive. They are building a trade school and they have set aside 15,000 square feet for us. We have plans to build a beautiful child care center that will accommodate 100 children. The space will also include classrooms and observation areas so that we can expand our ability to train other educators on trauma sensitive practices.
If you would like more information about our plans or if you would like to be involved in building this dream, please email our Executive Director at firstname.lastname@example.org.