Christine van der Gulik of Home Again Childcare Services

Lesley and I are so excited introduce Christine of Home Again Childcare Services to you. Christine runs an amazing program in Newmarket; although we definitely wish she was closer so we could plan a pot luck because her menu is amazing! She is a passionate educator with years of experience in home child care and she is one of the executive members of the Coalition of Independent Childcare Providers of Ontario.

What made you decide to open a home childcare program?

Like most graduating Early Childhood Educators, I accepted a job in a daycare centre as Head Teacher of the Junior Preschool Room. While I loved working with the children, I found the environment, structure and risk management aspect to be far too restrictive for the kind of foundation I wanted to provide for children. It was difficult to offer the high level of personal attention with that many children in one room. And I HATED being restricted to just two hours outdoors. I’ve never once thought about going back to centre based care.

What educational philosophies influenced your program?

My schooling was centred around the Reggio philosophy, which I thought was optimal for fostering a child’s ability to achieve goals for themselves, with their own vision and ingenuity rather than an adult directed effort.

What’s your favourite part of this job?

I have 2 favourite parts, I think. First, I love watching the children develop a distinct moral compass, sense of compassion, environmental responsibility and a general acceptance of everyone, differences and all. Children are wide open to the world with no prejudices – we have an opportunity and responsibility to maintain those virtues through ‘teachable moments’ and modeling behaviour. Second, the relationships developed between my clients and with me are tremendous! It is so gratifying to see all these friendships blossom and carry on even after the conclusion of their time in childcare.

What is the best part of you program?

Hahaha – well….some would say the food! I think it’s the quietly ubiquitous way in which cultural, racial, lifestyle, gender and family diversity are incorporated into our space by way of stories, play, discussion and modeling. As one example, I have just purchased two doll families for our dollhouse in 2 different racial backgrounds. I can mix and match to create a myriad of different family formations, rather than just the nuclear family. As early educators, we have the opportunity to make race, gender and sexual orientation non-issues; it just is. In this day and age, I think THAT is the most important part of my program. We also have a very strong lean to environmental awareness and can frequently be found learning about the effects of pollution on our planet, cleaning up trash in our neighbourhood, tending our vegetable garden and finding ways to reduce our footprint.

Where do you find your inspiration for activities?

From the kids, of course! Most of my activities are just expansions of their own ideas and interests. I don’t do a lot of planning, per se, but think up related activities on the spot, using what’s on hand. I like to use elements from nature as much as possible. I have a nice stash of natural items that I’ve collected from home and abroad for the kids to explore and create with.

Your most popular meal?

Charcuterie Boards, hands down! No recipe required. Put a whole bunch of great finger foods, meats and cheeses on a platter and let the children pick what they like. I love the way this fosters sharing, exploring different foods and discussion.

Best quote from a child?

“Sometimes there are two mummies. Sometimes there are two daddies. Then we AAAAALL have rainbow cookies!”

Favourite quote about childcare……..?

“Let ’em get dirty! Dirt on a child is a good measure of fun had that day.”

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