Dear Friends of The Playing Field,
Recently, Conscious Discipline® author and founder, Dr. Becky Bailey entered semi-retirement and she will soon celebrate her 70th birthday! This issue of our newsletter is dedicated to Dr. Bailey in recognition of Conscious Discipline® as the foundation of our work. It is no exaggeration to say that The Playing Field would not exist without Conscious Discipline®.
Dr. Bailey’s book, Creating the School Family™ was the inspiration for our program. The School Family is modeled after a healthy family where every child has their individual needs met— even if those needs are very different. The belief in this model was what gave me the courage to open a program where children impacted by homelessness were cared for alongside those from more advantaged families. Over the years, we have seen the power of the School Family and we are forever grateful to Dr. Bailey!
Conscious Discipline® has also given our staff the skills they need to support children who have been impacted by trauma. Watch video.
On a personal note, Dr. Bailey has taught me the value of transformational change. She has continually motivated me to keep going— even when things are difficult. I have learned a lot by watching her lead and inspire others.
At a recent training for Conscious Discipline® Certified Instructors, Dr. Bailey expanded on why transformational change is so challenging. Rather than repairing a broken system, we are moving towards creating a brand new system. There is no map or guide as we work towards building a better model for education.
The quote below from Dr. Bailey, has become the inspiration for The Playing Field as we begin the process of replicating our model and continue leading the way for other programs.
“Even when the work is hard, it all comes back to your imagination… Build the world you imagine.”
I hope you enjoy reading about all the ways Conscious Discipline® has made our work possible. The Playing Field is just one example of the many schools across the nation and around the world that have embraced Conscious Discipline®.
Please join us in sending Dr. Bailey love and gratitude. We are thankful that she has shown all of us a better way!
Conscious Discipline® has not only served as the foundation of our program. It has given our staff the ability to work with children impacted by trauma.
Over the last six and a half years, we have found that few educators come to us with the training or experience to do this work. The Playing Field has embraced Conscious Discipline® training opportunities to create a professional development plan for classroom staff and a path for advancement.
- First year teachers participate in the Conscious Discipline® eCourse. This series presents The Powers and Skills of Conscious Discipline. After viewing each presentation by Dr. Bailey, staff journal about what they have learned and how they have tried to implement change. They then meet as a group to reflect with other teachers and a mentor.
- Teachers who complete the ten session eCourse, staff can apply to go to the week-long Conscious Discipline® Institute. This event is very impactful and we feel fortunate to be able to give our teachers this opportunity!
- Upon return, teachers are then asked to set up a model Conscious Discipline® classroom. This is where others can come to observe and learn and where we expect to see full implementation of Conscious Discipline®. We see that our teachers strengthen their own skills by leading others so, we also provide opportunities for staff to return to the week-long Conscious Discipline Institute as helpers, table leaders or circle leaders.
- Teachers who successfully implement Conscious Discipline® and improve their skills for mentoring others can then apply for the role of Mentor Teacher. They are asked to assist with supporting other teachers by modeling or coaching.
This intentional training of teachers has not only improved classroom interactions but greatly reduced turnover of staff. The national average of turnover for early childhood teachers is 33%. At The Playing Field, our rate is less than a third of that number- even during the pandemic.
Our School Family is truly thankful for Dr. Bailey and for her work!
Big News for Madison!
With great excitement, we can now share that The Playing Field will host a week long Conscious Discipline® Institute in September of this year!
Our friends and partners of Plumbers Union Local 75 are loaning us their beautiful, new 5000 square foot auditorium so that we can host this event. Hundreds of early childhood teachers from around the country will be able to join us and learn best practices for social emotional learning of infants and toddlers.
We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to our community and to help others learn with us!
Sensory Play Path
Last summer, we opened a sensory play path.
Dr. Bailey provided the inspiration for this one of a kind space. Our play path provides opportunities for both sensory input and output. This is helpful to all children but especially so for those who have experienced early adversity or trauma.
At a Conscious Discipline® training in 2018, our Executive Director had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Bailey. As they discussed the impacts of trauma on young children, she began sketching her ideas for utilizing outdoor spaces for supporting these children.
Those drawings became the beginning of our dream and last July, we saw that dream become reality!
Dr. Bailey is always very willing to share her brilliance! We hope that one day soon she will be able to visit and see her vision in action!
Baby Doll Circle Time™
Dr. Bailey began her career as an infant toddler teacher. This experience demonstrated the need for change and she set out to find a better way. Baby Doll Circle Time™ was born from her classroom experiences.
The Playing Field implements Baby Doll Circle Time in all of our classrooms. Our children do I Love You Rituals with their parents and caregivers. They then have the opportunity to relive these emotional connections with their baby dolls during circle time.
Baby Doll Circle Time™ supports strong attachments between parents, caregivers and children. It has also been very helpful for children in our program who have been impacted by trauma. We see amazing benefits as children comfort and soothe their baby dolls, they are learning to comfort and soothe themselves!
Baby Doll Circle Time™ has also provided intervention support for children on the autism spectrum. It has provided a safe, fun way for children to practice new social skills and scaffolds their abilities to connect with others.
We had a child enroll in our preschool program after being expelled from multiple programs. Our staff noticed that while she struggled to interact with peers and teachers, she was very good with younger children. We asked her to visit the infant-toddler room each day and help to lead Baby Doll Circle Time™.
We witnessed a complete transformation in this little girl! She went from a child who frequently lashed out at others, cried, and stated, “Everyone hates me,” to a confident child who announced with pride, “Babies love me!”
Dr. Bailey has a true gift. She is able to take complex brain research and translate it into usable strategies for teachers and parents. Baby Doll Circle Time™ is just one example of her amazing work on behalf of children and the adults who care for them.
Sharing Conscious Discipline®
You may not know that our Executive Director, Abbi Kruse has two jobs. In addition to her work at The Playing Field, she is a Conscious Discipline® Certified Instructor. She has the opportunity to train teachers, administrators and parents across the country.
Abbi says, “I am grateful to have not one but two jobs that I love! When I have the chance to inspire other educators, it always reminds me of why we are doing what we are doing at The Playing Field. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I wouldn’t want to give up either of my roles. How lucky am I?”
When Abbi travels, she takes examples of Conscious Discipline in action from classrooms at The Playing Field locations. She also brings back ideas from other programs to share.
By visiting this link, you can learn more about Abbi’s role with Conscious Discipline® and view some of the work she has done.
As we make plans to expand our program, we are including adult classrooms and observation areas. We hope to grow our capacity for supporting other educators in their journeys with Conscious Discipline®!
From Our Hearts To Your Heart
We send our love and appreciation to Dr. Bailey!
Conscious Discipline® has taught us all a better way!
“No one can control my emotions or reactions— except me.”
Betty, TPF Board Member
“I Love You Rituals are my favorite. They let you use your body to tell a story. I like Story Hand because you can use your hand to share about something that happened.”
Mara, TPF Graduate age 5
“I have no doubt that my involvement with The Playing Field has helped me grow and become a better person. It has given me more than I can ever hope to return. I am grateful to Dr. Bailey and everyone associated with The Playing Field.”
Randy, TPF Board Treasurer
“Conscious Discipline taught me that we have the power inside us to make the change we want to see in our classroom. What a game changer to challenge teachers to change ourselves first instead of trying to implement yet another new program without tapping into our own Powers. Adult first, child second resets the entire concept of classroom management into classroom family.”
Julie, TPF Teacher
“Attending Conscious Discipline institute was an overwhelming inspiration for me, Being surrounded by educators who are willing to get deep and reflect— who desire to change the world together left a lasting impression on my heart and the way I live every day!
Julie, TPF Site Director
“The Playing Field has helped our granddaughter navigate her ever changing world.”
Rita, TPF Grandparent
“A big one for me is the Power of Perception. No one can make me angry without my permission. And, the skill of seeing positive intent.”
Michelle, TPF Parent and Board Member
“The Playing Field was family.”
Angelina, TPF Graduate
“Conscious Discipline has really helped me realize that I need to take care of myself before I can be helpful to others. Before, I would try to help others first and crash over and over. Now I have the skills to pull myself out of the weeds— to regulate myself first and then help those around me.”
Laurelin, TPF Teacher
“When a child is safe and loved, then they can learn.”
Tom, TPF Board Chair
“QTIP – Quit Taking It Personally. The behavior of a child, coworker, friend or spouse is a reflection of what is going on within them. It is not about me. This helps us stay in our Executive State and offer empathy instead of punishment. As someone who has always taken things personally, this has been a game changer!”
Grace, TPF Teacher
“Conscious Discipline is teaching me something new every day! My biggest take aways so far as an educator have been connection and attunement.”
Ashley, TPF Teacher