Gin & Zin

Early Childhood Development~ Interview with Melissa

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My name is Melissa.  I am an on the go mama of two girls and one gender unknown baby on the way.  We are always going to and from one thing to another but when we get a chance to slow down we craft, build forts, and snuggle up to a movie together. 

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Sweet, creative girls

My awesome stepdaughter is 7 going on 17 most of the time but is so kind hearted and caring towards others.  She reminds me of myself growing up, always wanting to create, build, and try new things.  My sweet baby is almost 1 already and will forever be my little angel.  She was born exactly two weeks to the day and hour after my sister passed away so she really has brought a joy to a time of sadness and has really helped in the healing process for my family.  She definitely keeps us busy by getting into EVERYTHING but we love watching her grow.  I am currently soaring into my 2nd trimester of pregnancy with our little surprise baby.  After the shock wore off I realized how exciting it would be to watch the two littles be so close in age and the bond they will share.

My biggest strength as a mom is keeping a calm and stress free attitude towards motherhood. I am very much a “dirt don’t hurt” kind of person.  I don’t have the time or energy to keep a consistent nap schedule or stay home to avoid any meltdowns in public places.  Don’t get me wrong routines are important but life is short to let your child run your life.

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Gorgeous gals

When I get “me” time, which I have to admit is very far and few between these days it is mostly spent running errands and maybe a brunch to catch up with friends.  I definitely enjoy the outdoors, concerts, and adult beverages every now and then.  Throw in a vacation at the beach, and I’m one happy girl!

I jumped into motherhood about 3+ years ago with having a stepdaughter around most days as her birth mom transitioned back into her life. I went from my single 20s to a mom, chauffeur, and playmate. I was no longer deciding what to do on a Saturday night rather making decisions on what school our daughter would attend and sports we should encourage.  The 180-life change came naturally, knowing I have always had a passion for children and a desire to become a mom one day. 

I have a BA in Child Development and have worked with children for half my life by now.  I knew I wanted to stick with the preschool age group because of the amazing building blocks you get to witness and help harness during their growth.  Just the thought of helping a child put on their own shoes is an important developmental skill for reading and writing.  Working with children is not only about helping others but you as a person are constantly growing right along with them.  You are able to be in raw form meaning the silly voices, bad singing, story telling, crazy dance moves are a form of therapy for yourself. Of course inspiring young children to be comfortable with whom they are has its benefits too.  Sorry boring office workers we have more fun!

My journey in this field landed me at an amazing school where I fell in love with their philosophy and now practice it with my own children in having a hands on approach to learning.  I see each child as an individual, which values, interests, and needs should be met throughout their learning process.  My favorite thing to do is create stimulating environments that provoke young learners to be challenged cognitively, physically, or emotionally.  I think everyone can agree that seeing a table display with fish swimming in blue colored water, sea turtles climbing on rocks while birds sit perched on the sand would be an invitation to stay and play.  These environments are there to provide imaginary fun but also to allow your children to think about and question why the animals live in different habitats, feel the water and sand, as well as to play in a positive social setting. A great resource to read more about this approach is Article 2: Environments as Curriculum by Mary Jane Maguire-Fong.

I felt so blessed to be able to bring my stepdaughter with me to my program and watch her really immerse herself into this new way of learning.  We both came from the same preschool background where digging was limited to a designated area, sticks are not allowed, repetition of letter sounds were brain washed, and art was simple daily crafts that were all the same. BORING! Children thrive on individuality! Paint your body, dig in mud, swing on a rope swing, and create meaningful art pieces that have multiple processes.  Overall the idea of doing it yourself and the satisfaction you are rewarded with is the achievement we all strive for, even as adults.  Let you children be children!

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Soon to be family of 5

I feel that I grew up in a home environment where I was able to freely express myself.  I would find pieces of wood and nail them together to make art pieces, old household items were painted to match my room, boat ropes were great for climbing, and mud was definitely smeared all over my body at some point.  I enjoyed my childhood and hope to provide a similar outlook for my own children.  There are of course some parenting tools I may change such as having a bedtime or eating 10 otter pops before bed, you know just a few obvious ones.  Being a parent is such a blessing but does come with its challenges.  A big challenge I have seen and have had many conferences is regarding discipline.  Many parents see their child so upset it’s heartbreaking to watch and don’t want to upset them anymore by disciplining them.  But please remember you are raising a young human that again thrives from boundaries, limits, and structure.  Chaos doesn’t work for my personal life therefore consequences are for teaching moments.  Consistency is your friend and will reward you in the end.  Please help your children become positive young learners now and throughout life. 

I loved reading your interview, feeling more at ease with letting my kids do what they do best- be kids! Thank you for your words of experience, wisdom, and reality!

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