Welcome to my Provider Spotlight series. Join me each month as I feature childcare providers from our FB Community. Throughout this series you will have an opportunity to get to know a little more about our members, as well as explore unique childcare programs across the U.S and in other countries.
I'd like you to meet...
Alina Dutka of Growing Up Montessori & Waldorf Inspired Hybrid! Alina has been a community member since 2014. You can often find her making supportive comments and sharing her beautiful invitations, and photos in our group. In addition to being a childcare provider, she is also a Mom, and a fantastic artist.
On occasional weekends, you can also find her facilitating her Growing Up ArtfulYoga and Discovery project where she offers children's yoga, art, and educational activities in the Ontario area.
Let's get to know more about her and her program...
How long have you been a childcare provider, and why did you become one?
My sweet journey as a child care provider started by unexpected chance, almost 6 years ago. We were in a new home, new neighborhood, faced with an unsuccessful child care search for our youngest son -2 years old at the time- and nevertheless feeling pretty hopeless. I had searched the child care options in the area and nothing met my vision. Somehow, I happened to come across an amazing training for home-based child care providers in our region and even though I was rooted in a different career (as a certified optometry assistant for 8 years), opening our own family child care seemed to be the best decision for our family, so I dived right in. A few months later, my first tiny friends walked through my door and we were making dreams happen and parents happy. Those years were wonderful and will always hold a very special place in my heart, spending that time with my youngest son left me with delightful memories and ...some regrets, that I haven't tried it earlier with our eldest son. I wish I had those years back to watch my eldest son growing up, but I guess these things work best when timing meets opportunity, don't they!? It wasn't meant to be.
What is the philosophy of your childcare program?
I like creating opportunities to support families in their beliefs and parenthood practices, while being mindful of the development of the whole child: mind, heart and body. My focus is on "teach me to do it myself", meeting the children's individual developmental stages and fostering their independence through practical life and mindfulness. 'Peace' and 'Mindfulness' are at the core of Montessori education, the most important aspects in the first years of any child's life, in my opinion!
What is your favorite thing about being a childcare provider?
I had an amazing childhood growing up, surrounded by a large family, I remember in detail my first school with its small furniture, the big bright windows, the smell of paints and play-doh, the sound of leaves during our walks in the Fall... I continuously try humble attempts of creating a 'Magical Childhood' for our boys and the children in my home, by symphonizing a replica of my happy childhood with a mix of Montessori principles.
I took Montessori training, read and seized many educational opportunities to learn more and created a hybrid of what I find to be the closest to my portray of a happy childhood! To sum it all up, I love the simplicity of play and discovery in early childhood, while sensitively observing the complexity of the children's absorbent minds. I love the frequent opportunities to revisiting childhood through my little friend's experiences and in general spending my days with happy and resilient little people. I also love being home for my children when they arrive from school, every day! I clearly have more than one favorite thing about being a child care provider!
What makes your program unique?
I'd say the children! The children make my program unique! We're currently blending Montessori, Waldorf and Reggio principles which are all reflected through our activities. As mentioned, I'm a big believer in meaningful observation. That's how I came across Montessori actually! A few months into observing my mixed-age group, I begun searching for ways to accommodate and incorporate all the children's stages and learning curiosity...and that led me to Montessori.
Later, Montessori met Waldorf, that was after sensing a need for more simplicity, a slower rhythm, authentic art, my love for traditions and the children's natural attachment to nature, with all that nature means: plants, trees, rocks, logs, bees and ladybugs...All these things have later led me to minimalism and while still working on it, I did simplify our days and we use less waste, more meaningful materials and most importantly, we slowed down in pace with more time to observe the "little things"! We'd rather sneak in lessons on courtesy, gratitude and wonder into our days, then rushing through a craft. I call it character education. I do however focus of the 'whole' child! We incorporate yoga practice and deep belly breathing techniques in our days, fill our hearts with joy and feed our minds with beautiful stories, creative learning and love.
What advice would you give a new provider?
I'd encourage new providers to follow their visions and invite their inner child in, to give lots of hugs, observe and follow the children's sensitive periods, but also to find time for themselves and always remember that "less is sometimes more".
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