Jan. 2023

Dear Friends of The Playing Field,

I was once asked in a job interview to rank the following in order of importance: Parent Satisfaction, Teacher Satisfaction, Personal Satisfaction, and Supervisor Satisfaction. I almost ranked parent satisfaction first but, ultimately decided to rank teacher satisfaction as my top priority. When asked to explain my answer, I said that teacher-well being has the biggest influence on the daily experiences of children.

Overwhelmed, stressed teachers cause children to feel overwhelmed and stressed as well. In the words of Dr. Becky Bailey, the adult’s state regulates the child’s state. A child may spend up to 10,000 hours in an early childhood setting— all while their young brains are developing and building templates for how they will care for themselves, relate to others, learn and motivate themselves. What happens in those hours matters! Early childhood teachers have a very important role.

Recently, I was doing some training with staff who have been with The Playing Field for less than a year. One of them remarked, “All the programs say they take care of their teachers but, The Playing Field actually does it!” It was one of the highest compliments we could have received!

Of course, I can’t take the credit for this. Our amazing Site Directors and Program Assistants are the ones who actually support our teachers each day. I am very grateful for our administrative team members who believe as I do— if we take good care of teachers, they will take good care of children. I’m also grateful for our board members who have taken the time to be involved with teachers, visit classrooms, and even ride the bus. I always know our board will do all they can to support teachers.

Over the last few years, teachers are leaving the field at a rapid rate. At the same time, turnover rates at The Playing Field have continued to decline. This allows us to minimize teacher changes for children and prioritize attachments. These early attachments are so important to children and especially for those impacted by early adversity.

Thank you to all who make our work possible!

Abbi Kruse, Executive Director

We Are Growing!

Outdoor play structure for the east side location

The Playing Field is opening a third location that will nearly double our enrollment capacity on Madison’s east side and add much needed infant toddler care!

The current east side site off of East Washington Street will be transformed to an infant-toddler center. The newest space on Lien Road will host our two year olds and preschoolers.

We will also be providing transportation on the east side for the first time- breaking another barrier for families impacted by homelessness. Our new bus was purchased with support from United Way Dane County.

The building process has been met with many delays and expenses but, we are nearing the end— finally! We hope to open very soon. We are in need of volunteers to assist with clean up of the construction mess and classroom set up.

Please contact us at info@playingfieldmadison.org if you are available to help.

If you would like to support this effort, we are in need of classroom materials. With a few clicks, you can help us fill our brand new shelves!

Please consider visiting or sharing our Amazon Wish List.

Thank you!

Our Youngest Volunteers

A student volunteer sitting with a young child
A student volunteer holding a baby
A student volunteer playing with a young boy outside
Since The Playing Field opened in 2015, students from St. Ann’s School in Stoughton have been visiting our midtown site regularly. The were greatly missed during the time the pandemic prevented them from coming but, we are very happy that they are back!
Over the years, students have volunteered in classrooms. They are always a big hit with the children. They have also helped us with organizing materials, cleaning projects, and lawn work. Each year, they bring wrapped  Christmas gifts for every child. Every visit includes a lot of play which is fun for both the older and younger children. Their teacher, Tonya Talbert said she enjoys seeing her eighth graders remember how to play.
This year, the visits have changed. Students are now coming every month and returning to the same classroom each time. It has been wonderful to see our students form deeper relationships with the children. Ms. Talbert added, “Each of them has a little buddy!”
These visits are something that TPF children and teachers look forward to each month and Ms. Talbert says her students do as well. She also says her middle schoolers are learning by observing our classroom teachers. “They are learning how to articulate their feelings and how to be intentional with their words.”
We are thankful for this wonderful partnership and the mutual benefits to children from both programs!

Rockin’ New Years Eve Party

The Playing Field recently hosted our first family night of 2023 and our very first combined family event. A few days into the new year, our midtown and east side sites joined together at the building owned by Plumbers Union Local 75 for a Rockin’ New Years Eve party!

We had a great evening. After dinner was served, our DJ kicked off the music for some family friendly dancing! Thanks to DJ Austo for the songs and Kendra’s Kreations for the 360 degree camera fun!

Families were also able to see our dream for job training and onsite childcare and tour the 15,000 square foot space where our early learning lab will be built. They were also able to learn more about apprenticeship opportunities in plumbing and internships in early education.

Since our beginning, The Playing Field has enjoyed excellent family participation in our family nights. Our Executive Director, Abbi Kruse explained, “The Playing Field breaks barriers for families and that includes barriers to participating in family events.”

Families are offered transportation if needed. They are scheduled for times that work for families and the schedule changes to accommodate families with nontraditional schedules.

In addition, a child’s whole family is welcome and encouraged to attend. Abbi continued, “We never want a parent to feel that they need to choose between attending a family event with their young child and being home with the rest of the family. We invite the entire family and feed everyone who shows up.”

Family nights at The Playing Field are always filled with fun activities. The focus of these events is on building connections between parents, children and staff.

The Playing Field Newsletter - Want to Help

Want to help?

We continue to raise funds for ongoing needs including scholarships for children. These scholarship funds assure that no child is ever denied access to our high quality program.

Please email info@playingfieldmadison.org for more information.

Five Stars