Kate Mehta, Tiny Footprints Preschool
In this recurring feature, we profile a leading Family Child Care Provider from Massachusetts. Each of these Providers has developed a unique program that reflects methods and developmental 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 life.
As a teacher, social worker, and Licensed Family Child Provider, Kate Mehta has vast experience in caring for children of different ages and backgrounds. So we asked this child care expert some of our most pressing questions about what inspired her career and what keeps her motivated.
Kate, when did you know that you loved working with kids?
When I was growing up, I was always taking care of the younger kids in the family. Then I went to boarding school, where I also helped care for the kids in younger grades. I guess I was lucky to discover my passion at a young age and then dedicate my entire life to working with young children! Looking at their little faces, I just feel bright and happy. Being around kids motivates me to work harder every day. No other job can give you that.
It’s obvious that child care is your passion, but has it always been a professional focus too?
Yes. I studied to be a teacher, and I taught second grade. I had forty kids in my classroom! I was also a social worker and worked with low-income, at risk youth.
Then, I had two children of my own and I wanted to make sure they received a high-quality education from a young age. Plus, I really wanted to keep working in education and child care. I decided I could achieve both goals by opening my own child care program in my home. It was a great decision—I love teaching the children in my program and supporting local families.
What do you think is a common misconception about Family Child Care programs?
I think parents often have the idea that a high-quality child care program has to have a lot of fancy equipment. But the value of the program is really in the educators themselves. I am a professional teacher, and I draw on decades of experience when running my program. There’s a lot that goes into teaching and child care that isn’t always obvious at first glance, and it definitely isn’t as simple as having the latest toys or technology.
There are other differences between my program and big centers. For example, kids in my program just don’t get sick very often. I hear horror stories about kids in the big facilities. But here, we have a lot fewer kids, and I clean every day and fully sanitize every week.
What are your favorite activities with the children?
I love to do puzzles with the kids. It’s fun, educational, practices hand-eye coordination, and is a great opportunity to get on their level and connect with them. Of course, circle time is also special, when I get to know each one of them personally and teach lessons.
I can tell you have a lot of favorite activities.
I just love it all. I like to work in a lot of activities that encourage the kids to be creative and express their unique personalities, so we do a lot of art, writing, and storytelling.
But as a teacher, the lessons are really important to me too. I’ve gotten caterpillars, so the kids can watch them become butterflies and learn about that process. And we study languages! Right now, we have three kids who speak other languages at home, so I like to incorporate that into our days, celebrating their cultures. Plus it’s great for their young minds.
When you think back over your career, are there any experiences that really stand out?
One experience that comes to mind was with a child who came to me as a baby, nine months old. He had been at another program, but he would cry all day, and his mom would have to leave work to care for him. So she came to me for help.
Right away, I realized there was a learning disability. I’m not a doctor, but I’ve always worked with kids, so I notice when things are off. Besides the crying, he wasn’t trying to feed himself, he wasn’t crawling. So I talked to the parents and told them he needed early intervention.
Ultimately, they got him the help he needed, and he is doing amazing now. He’s so happy! Not only is he talking and hitting milestones, but I’ve even taught him to count in Spanish! I think of these kids as my own kids. I’m worried about their futures and I want the best for them. So I’m always willing to go the extra mile.
Click here to learn more about Tiny Footprints Preschool and read testimonials.
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NeighborSchools partners with experienced educators to launch world-class licensed Family Child Care programs. In supporting the creation of more small-scale child care programs, NeighborSchools helps increase access to high-quality programs. Children benefit from lower ratios, greater continuity of care, and a nurturing home environment. Parents can discover and build a relationship with a Provider located right in their neighborhood. Providers get to launch the program of their dreams and earn a living wage, while working hands-on with young children every day.