Laynie Leek of Marshfield, MA
Every month we feature a leading Family Child Care Provider from Massachusetts. Each of these Providers has developed a unique program that reflects methods and development philosophies based on years of experience working with young children. These women are providers, educators, and businesswomen. Each is a "Pillar" in their community, and plays an integral role in the lives of the children and families they work with. We're honored to help bring their stories to light.
Laynie Leek always had a plan. The proud mother of three boys, Laynie always knew that she wanted to open her own child care program. As soon as we met Laynie it became clear that not only is she a great Provider, but she is also a community organizer and has been instrumental in bringing together Providers to discuss best practices and advocate for Family Child Care Providers at the State level.
Laynie, how did you get started as a licensed Family Child Care provider?
I started my program soon after we moved to Marshfield - our first son was about two at the time. We were living down near the beach so I named it the Marshfield Family Seaside Daycare. Since then we moved across town to our current home and transformed our lower level into the space that it is today - a bright, spacious environment with room for activities, mealtime, and a full nursery. We're fortunate enough to have a great back yard which is perfect for getting the kids outside every day.
How would you describe your approach and philosophy with the kids?
My philosophy is pretty simple - I believe in letting the kids play and allowing them to learn through exploration. We balance lots of free play with established routines that bring structure to the day and help the kids regulate behavior and energy levels. For instance, we do circle time daily, when we'll sing songs or share stories. We'll also have some planned activiites each day - often something involving arts and crafts, or maybe a sensory bin that we'll set up. These regularly scheduled activities help get kids accustomed to routines and transitions.
We cater to infants, toddlers and three year olds, so at that age it's really important that kids are having fun, socializing with their peers, becoming accustomed to routines, and learning through hands-on experiences. I prefer to think of our schedule as as a plan, and not a "curriculum". We can learn with playdough and dress-up time as opposed to worksheets and repetitive exercises. To me it's more important that the kids are developing socially and emotionally at this stage.
What are a few example of favorite activities?
Nature walks are definitely a favorite. I may print out a picture of a leaf or a stick or a certain bug and then out we go into the backyard to see what we can find and identify. In the fall we'll collect colorful leaves, and around Halloween we identified ghosts and goblins in the neighbors' front yards.
We also organize field trips. Last year we went to the Franklin Park Zoo, and in a few weeks we're headed to the Aquarium. The kids love these trips, and many parents volunteer to join us for the day - it's just a great time. We love when parents get involved - it really gives the program a great sense of community.
What's the most important thing for a parent to know when considering your program?
I just think it's critical that parents come and see the program while the kids are here. Our home and environment are great, and I can describe all the activities we do, but it's just not the same as seeing it for yourself. There's just an atmosphere and a feeling that is impossible to explain over the phone or when the kids aren't here. I think once you see the program in action you'll quickly know whether this feels like the right place for you and your child.
How do families find out about your program?
Most of the families in the program are people that I know from the community. I have a Facebook page as well, but most inquires come from word of mouth. That being said, there are are a lot of families that are seeking Family Child Care options these days, so I' starting to receive more inquiries. I have a pretty extensive waitlist, but I'm always happy to speak with prospective parents and help out if I can.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a Family Child Care Provider?
I would advise people to focus on their strengths, and look for assistance with other areas. There are a lot of parts of being a Provider and personally I don't love the business side of things, so I lean on my husband for help with things like accounting and marketing. I also encourage Providers to find other Providers and share stories and best practices - it's great to feel part of a community of Family Child Care Providers and know that there are hundreds of other Providers out there just like me.
Want to learn more about Laynie's program? Check out her Profile on NeighborSchools.
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