Today marks the first day of “Blogging for Better” – my goal is to Blog for the next 31 days on topics related to children, child care and education. I am making this commitment in order to hopefully make things BETTER for kids, all kinds of kids…babies, toddlers, preschooler, school agers, and even teens. I want to do this by helping parents, teachers, educators, and caregivers understand more about how we can support these precious children. I can’t promise that I will personally write every blog (I don’t even exactly know what I will write for the next 30 days!), I may borrow a few ideas, and sometimes it might be as simple as sharing some great links to information. A lot of the information will be specific to Ontario, and even Canada, but many of the blog posts will be bigger than a region or country.
How did we get to the point where I, someone who has “no holes” in their schedule, am committing to Blog posting for 31 days? To understand that, you have to know a little about me. Am I an expert? Maybe, in some things. What I am is a caring and committed parent and professional, who has worked with children and parents in a variety of ways for a number of years, and I think I have some insight into some of the challenges before us. From the ages of 12 to 21 I was pretty certain I wanted to be a lawyer, and not the kind that wore nice suits and drove fancy cars, though that would have been nice. I wanted to be the kind that really made a difference in people’s lives, a true advocate. By the time I had graduated from university, I knew that heading directly to law school was not what I wanted to do; I wanted to be out in the world and DO THINGS. Fast forward a few years, I have children, and I begin working in the daycare industry, for a time, I am a home child care provider, then I move into a support and management role, and eventually back into being a caregiver. At one point I left the business altogether to embark on a new adventure, but my passion for working with, and for, children led me back. For 20 odd years I have volunteered in various roles supporting children directly and indirectly, the hours spent too numerous to count. During this time, I have had children in the school system, and at times, when the school was not the best place for my child, I have homeschooled them. I can hear the judgement now, so bear with me. I am not “that Mom”, you know the one who protects their children from all things and assumes everyone is wrong except for their child? I am a Mom, and a Child Care Professional who always tries to ask myself, “Is this the RIGHT thing for this child at this time?”, and I hope that I always find the courage and strength to do that for all children, not just my own. My life has been touched by many great educators (not only in my life as student, but also by a family tree that is fairly heavily “leafed” in educators), but it has also been touched by “teachers” who should not have made this their “vocation”, since they clearly did not have the ethical commitment to children required for this important role. I have also been blessed in my professional life to work with some amazing police officers, social workers, teachers, various support specialists, and people involved in the residential schools claims process. These experiences have reminded me of the ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE of speaking up for children who are vulnerable within our institutions, including daycares, elementary and high schools. Which brings us to today. This has been a depressing year for me, really. I have never heard so many stories in the space of six months of unethical and unprofessional conduct, neglect, lack of professional commitment, advancement of adult agendas over what is best for children (in settings where the needs of the children should drive the agenda), and in some cases just plain thoughtless disregard for children as people. I am happy to know that people feel that they can reach out to tell me their stories, and because of that trust, I want to make sure that I actually do something to help in some small way, even if it is more “big picture”, rather than a specific individual problem. I am hearing from so many parents who are really crying out for help for their children. I also think there are some professionals out there who need help with their roles, and do not know what to do. I am running into people while doing my day to day business of life, I am being contacted personally; I am reading stories in our newspapers. Not all of these stories are about bad people doing bad things, sometimes it’s about not knowing what to do, professionals who do not seem to understand their role, parents who don’t know what they can do to be advocates. These stories span all age ranges, and all kinds of “institutions”, but one thing that is common to all of these stories, is that our precious and vulnerable children are not being served and protected as they should be. We are all humans who suffer the limitations of our own humanity, but our roles as parents, educators, and caregivers demand, by their very nature, that we look out for these vulnerable citizens, and I want to help people understand some of the ways we can work together to do this, to make things BETTER. I welcome your comments, feedback, and suggestions for blog topics.