The Child Care Business Podcast

Episode 19: Brain Development in Young Children and the Effects of Stress with Prerna Richards

November 03, 2021 Procare Solutions Season 1 Episode 19
The Child Care Business Podcast
Episode 19: Brain Development in Young Children and the Effects of Stress with Prerna Richards
Show Notes Transcript

 Prerna Richards is the founder and CEO of Together We Grow, an early childhood organization providing professional development, coaching and consulting for parents, teachers and administrators. She’s a coach and early childhood educational consultant. 

 Her desire to make a difference in the lives of children has shaped her life and her career. When she came to the United States, she had a degree in interior design. But when her daughter started preschool, she became a teacher and realized this was her passion and her calling in life.

Since then, one of her focuses is helping educators understand the importance of brain development in children and how to nurture positive growth.  Our brains are almost entirely wired by the time we turn 5, and during those years, the foundation is laid for our entire lives. 
 
In this podcast, Prerna talks about her life and her work with children, including the effect of stress, particularly stress caused by the pandemic.

 


Speaker 1:

[inaudible]

Speaker 2:

Welcome to the childcare business podcast brought to you by pro care solutions. This podcast is all about giving childcare, preschool, daycare, afterschool , and other early education professionals, a fun and upbeat way to learn about strategies and inspiration you can use to thrive. You'll hear from a variety of childcare thought leaders, including educators, owners, and industry experts on ways to innovate, to meet the needs of the children you serve from practical tips for managing operations, to uplifting stories of transformation and triumph. This podcast will be chalk full and insights you can use to fully realize the potential of your childcare business. Let's jump in,

Speaker 3:

Welcome everyone again to the childcare business podcast. Um , you know, for those of you have heard our show before, you might think somebody has a guest hosting today. Uh, but this is Ryan Gwaltney , uh, with the every time , um , kind of just getting over my voice coming back. And so we're going to , um, it's gonna work out really good though. Cause I'm excited about our guest today. Uh, Preena Richards is with us and Preena is the founder and CEO of together. We grow , uh , it's an early childhood organization providing professional development, coaching and consulting for parents, teachers, and administrators. Uh , she's a coach and she's an early childhood educational consultant. I'm looking forward to dive into a little bit of her expertise, but um, you know, her , her big desire, I think you'll hear this in our interview , um, is to really make a difference in the lives of children. Um, and that's kind of shaped her career. We're going to talk a little bit about how she got started. Um, and so let me just give a warm welcome to prenup printout, aria .

Speaker 4:

Great. Thank you, Ryan. Thank you for the invite. I'm excited to be here.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, we're excited too . I was apologizing before we started recording about , um, you know, I was telling Leah who's our marketing coordinator who is on standby right now in the background in case my voice doesn't hold up. I was like, I'm not sure it's gonna work, but uh , we're going to try to get through it. I always enjoy these conversations I wanted to be here. I'm so afraid of where, where are you physically located right now? I know we just talked about I'm an Oregon and you are Plano, Texas, Plano, Texas. Is that, so talk a little bit about your path to Plano. Cause I do know that childcare and early education, wasn't the career path early on in your life. Can you talk a little bit about, you know , how that came about?

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So yeah, life has a funny way of working things out. Um, I'm originally from India and in India. My last degree that I got was interior design and my husband's from Scotland and he's an architect. And when we first got married and we've been for 35 plus years, when we first commented, we thought, oh, this would be fun to do interior design and architecture work together. Thank goodness that didn't happen. Um, and so really , um, when my, when our daughters are born in Scotland and they started only attending the nursery school, I just loved going there. And I kind of started living there and the teachers and the program administrators, they would say creating logistical gauge for nursery certification. You'll hear all the time. You might as well get paid for it. And so the seed was planted and uh, along the way, it's been an amazing journey. And I know that this is a calling.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. So I got to ask, so we're going to spend a lot of time on childcare, but how does a interior designer from India and an architect from Scotland meet? Is that in school or what, what , how did that all get started ?

Speaker 4:

I tell you his destiny. Uh , no. He came from Scotland to India as part of his internship and we had a common family friend who introduced us and , uh , it was the best thing that happened to me and we've been married ever since. And , um, we have two daughters and three grandchildren and , um , I could not have just been more grateful for that

Speaker 3:

Planned a better life. So that was circa like what year in India? Was this just a timeline wise

Speaker 4:

In

Speaker 3:

84 in 1984. And then what talk a little bit about like what part of India? Like, I mean, it's always like be a great, like maybe little , um, cultural experience or learning for our audience and for myself too. Like what part of India? Because I know there's that just like in any country, I think vast differences in terms of different parts of the country, what part of India? And um, if you were to describe growing up there, your childhood , um, paint us a picture a little bit. What was that like?

Speaker 4:

Okay. So my dad was in the army and we moved around every two years. And so we, India is very wide and very different between the north and the south. So in terms of, if you've never been to India and don't know anything about the culture of India, India is a very vibrant country. It's very colorful. It's got the mountains, it's got the sea , it's got, the desert, has got the planes . Um , there's green bits , there's beautiful floral bits. Like it's very vibrant and you know, flowers have very nice fragrance and colors are very alive. People wear colorful clothes. There's loud, musics as very vibrant. They , um, open-hearted , uh , very inviting. And the difference between the north and the south is huge. It's like you're entering a foreign land when you go, when you belong in the north and go in the south and vice versa

Speaker 3:

Because the Northern about , and maybe you're about to explain this is, I mean, a lot of technical trade, a lot of like very modernized, if I'm not mistaken, like is that Mumbai and then Southern India would be more like considered rural or maybe even more third world type or am I wrong?

Speaker 4:

True, not true. So slightly different. So Mumbai is kind of in the middle. Um, and Mumbai is very famous, but the south is where the it talent resides. So almost everybody who's in the it field. And I don't want to generalize, but majority of people working from India in the it field, which I know nothing about because I only know education. So I I'm used , I'm the unique person from India. Who's not in it. So all the it talent is in the south of India and they are very talented in that. But I would say the north is more modern, more westernized. Maybe that's what you were into yet . And the south is more traditional cultural. I mean, there's culture all around, you know, there's cultural around. But if I was to say the upper half, maybe it's getting more westernized faster than the Southern half is. That's a way to frame it

Speaker 3:

A fair state . Yeah, you bet. And then, and then moving. So that is helpful to kind of get a picture of, of India. Was it culture shock for you moving to Scotland then because you had grown up in India, born and raised. And so around the age of, you know, young adulthood, you moved to Scotland ,

Speaker 4:

Um, that would be an understatement. That would be an

Speaker 3:

Understatement.

Speaker 4:

That would be an understatement. I mean, going from a vibrant, loud, friendly, open place to Scotland where it's gray and cloudy and you wait for the sun to come out and you could go through a month and those sun and people are very reserved and there's just this very severe phase and it's, and again, you know , there are lovely Scottish people. I , I have Scottish. That's not what I'm trying to say, but it's just, everybody's in gray, beige brown, black tones versus the colorful tones of clothing and culture . So yeah, big difference. But you know , uh , we've been in the, so from Scotland, we went to Hawaii and we went from Hawaii to Texas. And so we've been in Texas since 97. So this has been 25 plus years now. So long time, long time to adjust

Speaker 3:

Well, and even like, so obviously India to Scotland, change of countries, big cultural change, Scotland to Hawaii, another big change. And even though Texas is the same country as Hawaii, very big cultural change between Hawaii and Texas. What , what, what was in Hawaii? Was that a career move?

Speaker 4:

Yeah . Yeah. Both of us, my husband and I were working there. We had girls , um, I had the best early childhood , uh , work experience in Hawaii. I got my CDA from there. I started my early childhood journey there because the nursery certificate that I had gotten in Scotland was not recognized. And so I had to get my CDA and start the journey all over again. And as soon as I taking early childhood courses, I had found my passion. I could not stop learning, which is interesting because when I was in India, I hated education. Like I school was so boring to me. I can spend it , could not stand it. And then I finally started getting early childhood courses and couldn't get enough, just wanted to keep learning and okay. Sign up for this course and sign up for this goes . And I ran out of all each other courses.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. That's an interesting, I actually think I've heard you talk about this as well on another podcast you were on, but just the idea of like a difference between a career and like a calling. And I think that's one of the things I heard you say is when there's that hunger to just continue learning it , it doesn't feel like a chore. Then maybe that's a sign that that's a lane that you've been called to. Am I, am I saying that right? Do you think that's correct?

Speaker 4:

A hundred percent you can reframe it better. I honestly feel like it's not a job to me. It's not a career to me. It's a calling. And I think I just want to make the world a better place for children, teachers, and parents, and um , whatever I can do in that space. Um , and I want to use my life as a purposeful way of doing it and, you know , uh , people keep telling me, oh, you're so busy and you're doing this and this, but it doesn't feel like work because I'm enjoying it so much. And it brings me so much joy and it gives me so much satisfaction to help somebody.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I love to hear that. And I want to come back, I'm going to put a little pin and the topic around , um, you know, finding a career versus finding a calling and being passionate about. Cause I think this conversation around staffing and retention is really big in our industry right now, but just kind of going back a little bit to your track record and your history. So were you like working in centers then? Cause I know you do a lot of coaching and consulting now, but was it, were you a teacher in, in these centers or you had administration, what did, what did that look like for you in terms of different ?

Speaker 4:

Um, yeah, my professional journey has been amazing. I've been a teacher of all ages. Uh, my first teaching job in Hawaii was in a toddler classroom on Valentine's day party. I was, I had no idea how much headache I would get lost it. I would become a , that was the day I was introduced to Aleve because I had the massive head . So yeah, that was day one in Hawaii, in a childcare center, in a toddler classroom, being a preschool teacher, being a director, being an education consultant. I've been a vice president of a division overseeing about 65 staff members in Fort worth. And , um, you know, eventually starting my own business was just a journey because everything that I'm doing now for together, we grow, I have done for nonprofits for five plus years. Um, and you know, it , it starts with inside out. And when you can support the adult from inside out, when you show up with emotional intelligence leadership and when you support the teachers, they can then invest in the children in front of them. So I think the domino effect is very powerful when you have a leadership role and you can empower somebody and, you know , get them excited and motivated and they can trickle it down. So yeah, I walked all those shoes and I would not change anything along the way.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Which is really like, I mean, when you start to look at all the pieces that you've put together in your career, obviously taking pieces from teaching different age groups, administration, leading leaders, obviously it all kind of falls into what you're doing now. Um, was that like something that in terms of moving out of maybe working in the childcare center itself and being in a coaching consulting role , um, you know, just for others. Cause I, you know, I've talked to a lot of consultants and coaches over the years , um, you know, advisors for you. Was that something that had kind of been stirring for a while in terms of a path that you thought you would want to take or was it like a quick, like things culminated, somebody saw that talent in you and kind of called that out of you or her , how did that come about?

Speaker 4:

No. So the various different roles that I'd had when I was , uh , ever since I was , um, a center director, I was providing, you know, training and coaching along the way. Um, so I've been doing training, coaching and consulting in various different roles. I never ever thought I would own my own business. That was not a dream. That was not a pipeline. I was very happy working for the nonprofits , but then three years ago , um, life happened and um, you know, this opportunity just came and everybody kept saying, but you're great at training. And you connect with people, do it for yourself. And I really thought I was going to start off just temporary for myself and I would land a permanent gig, but I think God had better plans. And for the past three years, I've just done the best to get out of my own way. Like just trust God's path and like just walk the path. Um, I would say because , um , Ryan, you mentioned other people, you know , keep asking about how do I get into the coaching field. Um , um, if you've done along your journey, if you've been training your own team, if you've been helping your team and you become a mentor teacher, and that is something that brings you joy and you do it naturally, then it's worth exploring. Uh , but then I don't have a roadmap do this and do this and do this because , um , it's a journey. And as long as you're enjoying it, you just keep doing it and you know, new networking opportunities come and new connections come and , uh , you take a risk and you put yourself out there and you work hard when you own your own business. Uh , there's no weekends or evenings, but it doesn't feel like work when you're enjoying it.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think that's a good way to , um, I always love to hear that, like when people are kind of doing what they're really passionate about, I think what you're kind of stating what you've done a couple of times already, is it doesn't feel like work. What, talk to me a little bit about just kind of now getting into the weeds a little bit on, on your day to day and what that work looks like. Like, can you explain some of the reasons why a childcare owner or a childcare company would reach out to you? Like, what are some of the main reasons or the causes that would have somebody pick up that phone or nowadays email you or whatever it is find you on social media? Um , like why are they reaching out? What are the main symptoms that

Speaker 4:

So sure. So I offer three very distinct services. So the first one is professional development and I do training for very small schools, large schools, conferences, keynote , breakout, national, international, whatever the space might be. So really just , um, when together we grow was created, I was very clear that I didn't want to provide professional development unless it was research-based. So everything that I'm talking about is research based best for brain development breasts for child development and best for, you know, just the human growth and development. So I want to do it research-based so that would be one reason why somebody might reach out to me. They are looking for some professional development for their team or they're organizing a conference. The other one is consulting. So I provide any YC accreditation consulting. Uh , these are programs that are trying to become accredited through any VC national association, education of young children. And I will help them with their program portfolios or classroom portfolios. I am also a TRS assessor, which is a quality rating system here in Texas. I'm an assessor for them, for several of the boards here. So very much weaving in the standards, the qualities, if somebody is looking for how to improve quality in their program, the last reason somebody might reach out to me as for coaching coaching, because they're having challenging behaviors in their classroom or coaching because their parents are struggling with challenging behaviors. Since COVID, I've been doing coaching for individual families, as well as teachers and administrators , um, you know, administrators wear a lot of hats and I have the highest respect for childcare administrators because their work is very hard. Teaching is very hard in early childhood, but the administrators work she's stressed, right. Then he or she is stressed rate him and they have , may have the best of intentions, but they don't maybe have the time to go into the classroom and go deeper than the training. So training is just the start of the information. How do I implement it? How do I tweak it? How do I make it applicable to this, this classroom, this , these children, that's where the coaching can come in. So those are the reasons why somebody might reach out to me because those are the services that I would provide.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And , and kind of touching on a couple of those. Like, so if I'm a provider in Texas in your area, the fact that you helped other providers get through the certification process, like with Texas rising stars, like you said, or NACY accreditation, obviously, even though they could walk that path on their own, the value to them is like, Hey, I can partner with somebody or bring somebody in who's helped other centers do this, understands the process, understands the most efficient way to get there and will help us get to that spot quicker, more efficiently. Is that, is that a fair way to summarize it?

Speaker 4:

Uh, yeah, I think some of it is overwhelming to be honest. So the NACY Macy portfolios , uh , there's a lot of , um, I'm also on the accreditation facilitation project for , uh , Texas and, you know, there's information coming from Lacey , which we receive that we can share with others and support others and help others. So I wanted to correct something that you said just in the state of Texas. So these services that I'm providing are anywhere in America now, thanks to zoom. One of the schools that I'm helping coaches in Nevada Reno, and I was just there visiting them in person , uh, with the quality rating. I'm only an assessor for the state of Texas. So I don't really provide mentorship for that because that program already has its own mentor that supports the classrooms, but it's just really the logistics of putting NACY portfolios together. That might be a help because when you start looking at it and you've never done it, maybe you need help breaking down the standards. Maybe you need help with breaking down logistics of how do I take step by step and make it, make this finish rather than feeling overwhelmed, you know, because there's , uh , teachers have to come along, you can't make changes in the program without bringing the staff along. And if somebody can guide that journey and help you through it, then you can reach them through text or phone or when you get stuck, I think it just provides reassurance and comfort and support that, okay, I can do this. Like I'm not alone. Um, and you know , as a coach, it's also my job to help cheer them on. And if they get stuck and celebrate milestones with them and set goals with them and make it achievable. So it's a journey, right? It's it's , uh , it's, it's, it's kind of walking the path knowing that somebody's there in your corner.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And is it different for every client, for you, a brain, like one of the things like for providers that are listening to this show, when , when they look at hiring a coach or a consultant for one of those areas, is it, is it always like, Hey, I hire you for a period of time to help with the project. Is it an ongoing relationship that stays , um, indefinitely? Or is it different in every situation for you and your clients?

Speaker 4:

Really good question. It's so individualized it's so individualized right now, currently I'm helping three programs. One is in south of Texas and we are starting in just her pre-K classroom. There's another one in college station. And with her , uh , you know, w we're doing observing and coaching, and there's another one close to here in Fort worth, where I'm doing the training first and then followed by coaching. So it's really custom made and it's very individualized. Some people do it for three months. Some people do it for more than, you know, I have a coaching parent family who's been with me throughout COVID and we connect every two weeks because they just need that extra support. So it's very individualized and some of them are just one and done some of them, you know, I helped her for one month and she said, the behavior has changed in my classroom. I'm good to go. I'll reach out if I need you great. Done

Speaker 3:

Perfect. Yeah. And it's different for everybody. And so does that start with you just so we can visualize a little bit about, you know, your process and even, you know, I'm sure it's similar for other coaches and consultants. If a provider reaches out to you and says, Hey , uh , you know, I got your name from somebody, or I saw some content that you posted and I'd love to have a conversation because I'm experiencing, you know, whatever challenge that might be. What does that initial conversation look like for you and how do you go through a discovery and then, you know, what's the next step from there? Maybe.

Speaker 4:

Okay, great. Great question. So 30 minutes free consultation , uh, reach out to me from my website and we connect. And if I can help you, I'll be honest. If I can help you, I will guide you to the right person. I don't want to waste your time or money on mine . Um, so once that is done, and then once we determine, do we want to start have, you know, the questions might be, you know, have your staff had a brain development training? How comfortable are your staff with behaviors? My, my space, if you like, is classroom management , uh, broken down. So it's, you know , uh, from a provider's perspective, if I had to look at it, you know, I'm , I might help you with your environment. Is your environment causing the challenging behaviors? Because challenging behaviors is just a symptom. And that is what I coach for specifically challenging behaviors and stressful situations . So, you know, understanding, is it coming from your environments ? Is it coming from your schedules ? Is it coming from your curriculum? Is it coming from social, emotional needs not met, like unpacking all of that. And then once we unpack it, then we can create goals. We can create strategies and I'll share specific strategies with the teacher she will implement, and we will see it happening. So it could be discovery call training overview if they have not heard about brain development, growth development, because we got to start from here so we can change the behavior outside and then followed by an observation, followed by a debrief and coach. And then you'd be , might have a couple of sessions where they might meet me during my coaching office hours on a Friday on zoom. And they might implement some of the strategies and then maybe , uh , if they want a second observation to see, okay, we've done this, we're seeing this help us tweak it. We might have a second observation. So it's all very individualized. Some people do the first in-person observation, but then the just want to transfer to the zoom after that and be as sustaining since then. So it's really very wide and open

Speaker 3:

Different for everybody. And I think it is like, I mean, one of the things with a consultant is just getting obviously expertise, but sometimes just a fresh set of eyes into a classroom. Because like you said, we, a teacher or a school director might think this is the problem. We have behavior issues. That's just the symptom looking at it more holistically and really understanding what's causing that is kind of what it sounds like you dive into. I've heard you also talk about like how important those early years are, which is obviously ties to your passion for this, but like 80%. Did I hear you say brain development happens in that three year old range? Is that right?

Speaker 4:

80% by three years and 90% by five years. Like, it's huge. So let's, I'm so thankful that you brought that up because I really think it's important for everybody to understand the value of the birth to five years. So birth to five ninety five, 90% of our brain is wired by the fifth birthday. That brain is going to sustain us for the rest of our life . The person that we are today, the foundation was late birth to five. So if we are problem solvers, if we are creative , creative, if you are critical thinkers, if we take risks, if we , um , are creative, I FIAR team players . If we are problem solvers , like the list could go on the person we are today, the foundation was late, birth to five, or the opposite could be happening. They're very anxious people. We avoid risk and we live in insecure space. And when we lack self-confidence all of that foundation was laid. I don't know about you, but other than my parents, I don't know who wired my brain. Like I don't, I don't actually know , uh , which preschool I went to in India, if any, you know what I mean? But the influence goes on. So whatever they did, I'm thankful to them because I'm doing okay. I think

Speaker 3:

Right .

Speaker 4:

The influence goes on. So if educators and parents can recognize how important these years are, how what a powerful role we play, that we can touch somebody's life forever. Like we are brain architects, you know, we're not just childcare workers. That seems so menial . We are educators and our brain architects and your life changes. And if you can do the right things in the environment, so every child can thrive.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Do you think there's like , uh , like in your work, in the industry, like that understanding and that awareness around the importance of those years, would you say that that's generally known by professionals in our space or not to a degree? Not enough. That's what I was gonna ask you.

Speaker 4:

Not enough. I wish more people knew. I wish more people knew that everyday interactions, masher . I wish more people knew that developmentally appropriate curriculum matters. I wish more people knew that behavior is a symptom and not the cause. And unless you fix the cause you're only putting a bandaid on the behavior. I wish more people knew about the brain development. You'll be surprised every single time I talk about this topic, there are so many people just blown away. Like, oh my God, I didn't know that, oh my God, I wish I knew that was for my own children. It is just absolutely imperative that we get this information out there. You know, even even challenging behaviors, people get so stuck on, you're just doing this to get attention. But if they understand that attention seeking behavior is a relationship seeking need. We will look at it differently.

Speaker 3:

That's a really good, I want to ask you to expound on that a little bit, because that's an interesting, I mean, I think there's a whole nother conversation about, okay, what happens if it that a child's , you know , birth through five years, aren't handled properly and the way their brain is wired and you know, the effects of that and can it be changed later on in life and what kind of impact, but I know our focus is like, you know, that birth to five and what can be done in a positive way. Are there some things that like come to mind for you from your experience in your work, that in that age group to bring teachers awareness, to like simple things, like if you see this, try this, or this is something that commonly as a misconception, let me clarify anything that comes to mind.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. I could have a long list of this because, you know, I cover so many topics in this, but I do want to address your point where in case it's not wired, right. Is it game over? Is it like doom and gloom? No. So the brain is the most pliable, flexible organ that we have. It can be rewired, but it takes more work to be rewired. So we will spend more time fixing a mindset. We will spend more time creating a positive thought pattern if you like, if we had done it right the first way. So what do I mean by that? Like, you know, if we , if we don't allow children to problem solve, then they go through the early years of saying, I need help. And they're not empowered by that. But if you can, and of course when they get older, somebody in their life might push them and they might have to learn to problem, but it's easier to do it right in, in their live so that they grow up problem solving . Right. So they're not dependent that way. Um, so that's always the good news that, that it can be rewired. And you were asking for just a few, you know , tips, if you like, if, if, how to help anybody who's listening , um, in the moment. So recognizing that when the adult is stressed out, they're more reactive versus responsive. I think that's a really good place to start because a lot of what's happening in the classroom starts with the adults brain and the adults stress level. So just recognizing that when a child does something and if I get triggered, recognizing my triggers, because the triggers for you will be different than for me. So just recognizing what stresses me out, recognizing when a child is not listening is going to stress me out on recognizing that a child is being disrespectful. It's going to trigger me whatever it is for you. How do you manage that? Because at the end of the day, we only have control over us, our actions and our reactions, right? We can't control the child. We can't control the other adult starting with us. So recognizing your triggers, recognizing how you show up under stress , and then how do you take care of your stress level? Right. So there's a simple thing that I share with providers and teachers and all the time. In fact, I was just doing a training , uh , just yesterday. And this was one of the things she said, okay. So I know I'm stressed out. I hear what you're saying. Can you tell me some simple ways how I can distress ? Okay. There are three ears , like three ears . If you do that to yourself. So first E is do something every day. That absolutely energizes you. Meaning brings you joy, right? That's the way to manage your stress. If you can raise your joy hormones, because you're doing something that brings you joy, it energizes you. So do something that brings you joy everyday and energizing. The next one is exercise, not talking about a certain way to a certain height, but exercising to get oxygen in your lungs, into your head, into your muscles, just fresh oxygen in whatever that means for you. The third one is empathizing having somebody in your corner of the world that you can open your heart to everyday . Teaching is a hard job. Being a director of early childhood program is hard job. And if you can't pour from an empty teapot , if you can't take care of you, you can't do this serving industry any good, right? So empathizing having somebody in your corner that you can open your heart with , be transparent, be authentic, be genuine where your heart is open, because you will need to bring that in the classroom and in the programs. Children's sense that

Speaker 3:

I love that those are like, I'm going to repeat those because I think, you know, anytime we do , uh , you know, an like, I always love to hear people's stories. I think our audience loves to hear people's stories, love to hear how people are working in our industry, but also just love practical takeaways. Like what are things that I could take from this 45 minutes and apply today? So in your classroom, if you're a teacher doing something every day , that energizes you doing some type of exercise, even if that's walking upstairs and taking two minutes to just, or dancing with the kids or whatever, it is, a little bit of exercise, and then find somebody that you can confide in, that's empathetic to your situation so that you have a place to kind of have an outlet. And along with that, then , um, Brianna , I think in this kind of lens to something I've also heard you talk about as a, as an owner of that center, knowing that my teacher's emotional state or stress state is so vital to their classroom. Um, my role as an owner, as an it director is really important to , to, to be able to be aware of that and to support my teachers. I've heard you talk about like the love languages and being aware. Can you talk a little bit about how homeowners and directors can support their teachers in a way that minimizes that stress

Speaker 4:

A hundred percent, a hundred percent, because I think it comes from providing emotional intelligence leadership, right? And what that basically means is having a genuine connection with the teachers who are showing up in your environment, the social climate of your building , uh , are people open-hearted , are they inviting? Are they respected? Are they valued? Are they motivated? Are they feeling all these? Because these are all emotions. And as an owner director, you can say, I'm a, I'm a really recognizing person. And I motivate, and I appreciate everybody, but if the person doesn't feel it, then it's an emotion and you referenced the five love languages. I love the five love languages, because then you can learn the specific language of that teacher. That way you can make her feel appreciated and valued in the language that she speaks. So for example, words of affirmation, if this teacher is her , her way of talking is words of affirmation. When you do your first round in the morning, I always tell them, the first round in the morning should be empathy rounds. They should not be apathy rounds. They should not be directive and corrective rounds. When you first walk your building, you should just be doing it to deposit in their emotional banks and make a connection. And so that first round you're making, if you knew their love language, you could communicate in that. So for example, this teacher who likes words of affirmation before she came in the room, you could leave her a little love note on her door, on her computer. It'll just make her day. She would just be like, oh my God, my boss is awesome. She just loves me. It take any extra time, but it made her feel appreciated. Now she's set up for success. Or if somebody else likes , um, quality time, you know, carving out five extra minutes to stop by her classroom and say, Hey, catching up on your family. You mentioned this yesterday. How are you doing? Just being present for that? Because her love language is quality time. Or if another one is acts of service, if somebody needs photocopying done, or somebody needs a form done, and you're like, Hey, I got this done for you. And I heard you wanted to do this done. You're depositing in a way that is meeting that person's need or tangible gifts , you know, just buying a little gift card or picking up something and leaving it for her, or when you make your rounds in the morning, just a way to connect. And if the adults needs an art met , whether it's stress or motivation or appreciation, they cannot give to the next people will leave jobs for 5 cents higher to the next door. If they don't feel appreciated and valued in our industry, we're losing people all the time and it's a revolving door. So if you want to hang on to your people, make them feel valued and appreciated and motivated and connect with them. So create an environment where it's a supportive environment. If the adults is supported, the children will be supported.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. That's excellent advice. And I know earlier in our conversation, I penned a comment you made around staffing and some of you know, this topic is there, you know, when you start talking about understanding each individual teachers, you know, what you call love language or , or how they receive recognition or what motivates them because everybody is unique. I think just having awareness as an owner or as a leader in any space that all of the people on my team, you know , uh , are motivated differently is really important. So just that awareness of its own. Are there any things that you have found or tips or tricks for a director to be able to identify that? Like, how would I know if my teachers, you know, way to communicate with them as words of affirmation or quality time, is there practices that that can help with that?

Speaker 4:

Actually Google made it really easy. You just have to Google the five love languages, and you can download a survey and you can give it to your team and you can get to know them. So that's just one strategy. The other strategy is also asking them, asking the team to complete. And I do this in my full leader trainings, but I'm trying to think of some strategies , uh , asking the team to complete sentences. Like I feel motivated when I feel supported, when I feel respected, when I feel valued when let's finish these sentences, because what you'll realize is each person feels respected and supported in a different way. And understanding because support looks different to different people. Some people will say, I feel supported if you leave me alone, some people say, I feel supported when you actually come in and tell me what to do. Like it's different to find out what your team needs. Um, but you know, this is more than just recognizing what the team needs. Maya Angelou. I think she said it really well. She says, you know, people will forget your words and actions, but they'll never forget how you made them feel when you can make somebody feel valued and appreciated and motivated. You've kind of hit the jackpot of leadership because relationship is all that matters at the end of the day.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Is that I'm , I'm always curious, like the topic of leadership in terms of it being innate and natural to some, so that ability to influence how people feel like you made them feel something. I love that quote. I've heard it many times. Um, is that something that can be developed or you either have it, or you don't from in your opinion and in your experience,

Speaker 4:

I think you have to have a desire to learn and desire to change. If you're born in Italy with it, then you have higher emotional intelligence and yay for you. But so many people end up in leadership roles because they were a shining star in the classroom and they just get promoted and up the ladder, they go and sit in this office and they don't have it in AP , but it's not game over. If you have a desire to learn, there's many ways to improve skills, it's a skill, it's a skill. Once you start honing into it, once you put your attention on it, once you put your focus on it and you see the direct results, that's value value, well spent, like, you know, that's time well spent. Um, I mean, even children, you know, I do this as part of my whole training, understanding the emotional brain and understanding how the emotional brain works. Um, so your phrasing can change. Your language can change so that you can, and those alarms , those phrases can be learned. They can be learned by anybody.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, that's really good. You know, we, we actually make this same observation, like on, you know, in, in software and in technology and a business in general, that sometimes the assumption is the person who's best at whatever their trade is . There they're a sales representative or customer service or product that the people that Excel in that individual role would be the best leaders. And sometimes that's not, in fact, oftentimes that's not the case because sometimes it comes so natural to somebody to be a teacher, and then they can't really even understand how do I go teach that to somebody else? Cause it's just natural to me. I'm not thinking about it. Um, and so when you do that, when organizations make that mistake of saying, Hey, you're our top teacher and it can work for sure, but we're going to move you into a leadership role sometimes. Not always, but that can lead to failure because it's hard for that person to

Speaker 4:

A hundred percent, a hundred percent. I think we've seen it in all industries. You know, I was mentioning a phrase earlier, another phrase that just popped into my head, which is easy to learn and implement is the more you connect, the less you correct. So if all of our conversations are correcting a behavior, whether it's the adult or whether it's the child, if all I do is keep correcting you and directing you, I'm not really connecting with you. Yeah. You're not going to have a connecting relationship with me because all you see me as in that role of correcting. So the more we connect, the less we correct now that's the phrase. If you think about it and unpack it, that's something anybody could learn just watching yourself becoming cognizant, like, am I correcting more or am I connecting more? Like, what am I conversations are like, what are they like, would I be doing here?

Speaker 3:

Yeah. I think that's a great way to frame it. I've also heard another one that has always stuck with me is , you know , people who work for your , maybe people in general, they don't care how much, you know, until they know how much you care. And it's kind of on the same on the same line. How do you feeling about like in, in your realm and the schools and centers you're working with? I know it's, you know, we've talked about this a lot over the last year and a half, the effects of COVID and all the changes and the burnout, but in terms of what you're seeing now in your line of work with your customers and maybe a up to that, like your outlook moving forward for the industry, any, any commentary about what you're seeing as current patterns or challenges and, and how do you feel about the path forward for the industry?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, so , uh, I think the direct results, what I'm seeing of the stress from COVID the uncertainty, the short handedness, almost every program I know is shorthanded and with that comes stress, right? So I am from the space that I am seeing it. I'm seeing increased challenging behaviors. I'm seeing pushbacks from the kids. They're acting out more, there's less resiliency there to bounce back. There's more reactions happening. Um, if I'm totally honest from the teachers and from the children, because I think nobody thought we would be talking about this 18 months in like, nobody is like a never ending thing. Like, you know, but I want to sit in the optimistic space because I'm just an optimistic person. So I wanna sit in the optimistic space and say, you know, if we don't focus so much on the cognitive losses in children, because there's so much conversation right now with what had they lost and the back end classes and they're behind, they're behind , um, let's focus on the social, emotional needs. First, the learning will come. Children will learn if they feel safe and loved and accepted, right. The learning will happen. And I think if we can just be more empathetic was, is apathetic where we just say , I don't care. I don't care. Like, you know, whatever, I don't care, care , take an interest, take a passionate like,

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Well, and it goes back to something you even said earlier too about, we can only control our part. So as teachers, as directors, as anybody, who's, you know, investing into our industry own that part for you personally, and then that'll spread, you know, be positive, be optimistic, connect with people where you can control it. And then that'll kind of be the ,

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I a hundred percent, you know , uh, I'm also reminded that change is a constant. Everything will change. Everything will always change. We have a choice to make is change a challenge or has changed and opportunity, right? How are we going to look at it? That's our choice. That's our individual choice. And having said this, I have seen many, many programs that have thrived over the 18 months. They have gel more as a team, they have felt supported as a team that children are not having these extreme behaviors, right? So there are people who are doing it, right? So let's be inspired by them, right? There are ways to do this. And the heart of it is really creating an environment where you value, appreciate respect, the qualities that we want and not children to have, but at the adult doesn't feel it. How will the little ones feel it?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think that's really, I mean that whole narrative around, have you look at anybody who's been involved in anything that you might define as great. It usually comes after a period of, you know , adversity and challenges. And so, you know, to your point about framing this as, you know, not just adversity, but a real opportunity to demonstrate, to model the behaviors that we're trying to instill in kids, but to also lead, you know, that out of this, we can actually all get to a better spot to even in our industry for those who lean in and keep, keep.

Speaker 4:

Yeah, thank you for framing. It like that. So beautifully said, I think for our industry, the spotlight was on and how people recognize that we are essential workers. I think that was a plus. I think people stopped and realized that it wasn't just a place to drop off your child and get on with your day. Like world can stop. If you have nowhere to take care of your children. So how much should we appreciate our educators and how much should we appreciate our childcare center owners and directors and quality preschools, right? The quality preschools that are doing it. Right. I think it's a moment to pause and say, you know, job well done. And it's been too long that nobody took a pause.

Speaker 3:

Yeah, I think you're right. That, that, and the more and more conversations I have this idea of we are losing workers and there are people that are leaving for other industries and jobs. However, and you said this, I think really well. I think it's also shining a light on people that understand what is my passion and the people that stay and come to invest in our industry and teach are going to be that are really passionate about it and want to be involved in it. And therefore our kids are going to benefit because it's,

Speaker 4:

Yeah, totally. They're the ones who are passionate will stay. But I also, I feel like let's elevate our profession. Let's not just call it babysitter as a childcare. I hate that phrase. I can't stand it. When was the last time we ever sat on a babysat? Like, what is this? Where does this term come from? It's horrible, but elevate our profession as educators, as brain architects and elevate the work that we do. And so, yeah, the people who will remain will be passionate and our children will benefit. Um, but it's a journey, right? The more we learn, the better we do, the more we know the more I can do better. Like it's a journey. I don't feel like I've arrived just to learning

Speaker 3:

Yeah. At which we should be. And with that in mind too. Cause I know we , we, I don't want to hold you past the time that we said and Zuora kind of coming to an end, but I would, you know, maybe someday there'll be a , um, an episode two and we'll continue the conversation, but between now and then , um, if anybody in our audience wanted to find you praying , uh , and wanted to be able to, you know , listen to more of your content or to reach out to you, can you just share with our audience how people can find you?

Speaker 4:

Sure. Thank you for that. Uh, together we grow.online is my website. I have a YouTube channel, not very many videos that were created over COVID. So just a few videos of there , but it's all on brain development for children and adults and you can subscribe and also on social media, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, but together we grow.online has any information that you need to reach out. And if you are struggling, don't do it alone, reach out, get help, you know, you're not alone.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. And , and she comes with tread because I also know 2020, I know you were recognized and received an award from , um, the Texas chapter of a UIC , I believe. And so, you know, for anybody listening , um, you know, obviously we're advocates for partnering with consultants, experts, individuals like praying that can really come in and help kind of, you know, you take your center to the next level. So praying that's been , um, an absolute honor, it's been a privilege. I think this would be great content for our audience. And , um, I'll be have a great rest of your week.

Speaker 4:

Thank you Brian, for the opportunity. I appreciate it. And you guys are doing great book. I am a big fan of ProCare . I've had it in almost all of my programs and you're doing wonderful work. So thank you for this opportunity and have a great week as well. You

Speaker 3:

Bet.

Speaker 2:

Thank you for listening to this episode of the childcare business podcast, to get more insights on ways to succeed in your childcare business, make sure to hit subscribe in your podcast app. So you never miss an episode. And if you want even more childcare business tips, tricks and strategies, head over to our resource center@procaresoftware.com until next time.