Sarah McCartney of Sarah’s Home Daycare

Sarah was one of the very first members of NEED! We are really excited to have the opportunity to share more about her program with you. Thank you for allowing us to feature you Sarah!

Q: What made you decide to open a home child-care program?

A: I have always had a dream about opening a home-based child-care program when I had children of my own. As my maternity leave ended with my son and after many years of working in the school system as an Educational Assistant and DECE in kindergarten, I made the decision to stay home and start. It was one of the best decisions I’ve made! I get to incorporate my love of teaching young children and spend time with my son.

Q: What (if any) educational philosophies influenced your program?

A: I run a play-based program. I feel children can grow and learn to their fullest potential when they have the time and materials to explore and use their imaginations. By providing activities that are age appropriate and also based on their interest the children stay engaged in activities and build on their own experience to add into their play.

Q: What’s your absolute favourite part of the job?

A: I would have to say watching the children meet milestones and seeing the smile on their face when they accomplish something they have been trying to do, like walking across balance beam they built with wood pieces or putting beads on a pipe cleaner to make a bracelet. Just the little things they do on a daily basis bring a smile to my face.

Q: What would you say is the best part of your program?

A: The best part of my program is the amount of time we get to explore and play outside in the backyard and nearby pond! There is so much to see from learning about the bugs, worms and insects we find, to building a big sand castle in the sand pit or making cupcakes in our mud kitchen!

Q: Where do you find inspiration fro programming and activities?

A: Most of my inspiration comes from the children’s self-interests. They give me many ideas to expand on when they are playing and using their imagination. I also like to go on Pinterest, other daycare sites/blogs and also attending workshops/conferences.

Q: What’s the most popular item on your menu? Share a recipe!

A: The most popular item would be our chocolate avocado pudding!
2 Bananas
1 Avocado
1 Tbsp of milk
1 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 Tbsp of unsweetened cocoa powder (more if you want)
3-5 Tbsp of pure maple syrup

Blend all ingredients together
Put in fridge to chill

Q: Best quote from the children you have heard to date:

A: “I think I can, I think I can” when trying to climb up ladder for swing set. We also have read the little engine that could a few times recently but to hear them use it in their play and say this positive affirmation to help them accomplish it makes me smile.

Q: Your favourite quote about child care, early learning, play, or children:

A: “Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” –O. Fred Donaldson


You can find out more about Sarah’s Home Daycare on her facebook page:

Fawn of Fawn’s Forest of Friends Home Preschool

We are so excited to share our June profile with you. Fawn is an astounding provider and we are so pleased she agreed to allow us to profile her for NEED KW. Fawn’s program is called Fawn’s Forest of Friends Home Preschoo and is located in Innisfil, Ontario.

Choosing just a few photos to showcase her amazing program was really tough!

Q: What made you open a home childcare program?
A: I have always had a love of teaching and working with children from a very young age. Having my own children inspired me to pursue my dreams to become a Early Childhood Educator and Caregiver.
I Graduated from Centennial College with a goal to open my home to families that are interested in home based family childcare. I love being able to stay home with my youngest daughter and have her learn and become socialized with other children in a home environment. My absolute dream would be to open a Forest School and inspire children to fall in love with nature as I did as a child!

Q: What educational philosophies influence your program?
A: There are many different philosophies that Inspire my program. I love to teach children based on my own philosophy which is the Naturalist Approach. I believe that children learn in all different ways and that to have a mixture of different teaching styles helps children to explore the world in so many more amazing ways then just one philosophy. We base all of our exploration and units on Nature and incorporate natural elements in to our learning environment. I believe that children learn best though play, but also need to have some structure to prepare them for the school learning environments. I believe that children can still enjoy play based learning and exploring their own interest while having a mixture of planned and open ended curriculum. I plan weekly units that I believe are beneficial to early years learning and base all units on the season and the flow of natural environment! The Naturalist Approach that I follow in my preschool program is about enjoying fresh air, Exploring new adventures and expanding their minds to the endless possibilities while being outdoors. I feel that that is not only beneficial to the physical heath of children but also helps them utilize all of their senses while learning and exploring through Nature!

Q: What is the best part of your job?
A: There are many reasons that I love my job! I would definitely have to say the best part is observing the children while they explore! I love to see how they use their imagination and creativity during open-ended nature play. I really enjoy setting up the learning environment and creating new experiences to help the children become engaged in topics. I believe that using provocations and invitations to play help spark interests and expand their imaginations. Setting up the learning spaces and experiences/activities is also one of my favourite aspects of having a nature based preschool. To be able to incorporate two of my passions everyday into what I love to do is also one of my favourite parts of my job!
“Love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.”~Unknown

Q: Best part of my program?
A: I feel that the best part of my program is our units on animal and plant life cycles.
The children become so interested in the ongoing changes that happen throughout the process of the different life cycles and the living world. During the spring, summer and autumn seasons the children will examine and explore….plants, flowers, birds, worms, ants, snails, tent caterpillars, tadpoles and frogs and monarch butterflies!
In the past we have done worm and ant habitats to learn how they build tunnels underground and work together to build their homes. Garden Snail trails are fun to follow and observe how they live, move and eat.
The Frog and Monarch Butterflies life cycles are the most interesting units we enjoy!

Our pond tanks include 2 different types of tadpoles (leopard frog and American toad), water beetles, minnows, leaches, snails and other fascinating creatures that live in ponds. We release all of the animals back into their habitats in which they where we originally collected from after our unit observation is complete!
During the late summer our once striped monarch caterpillars undergo their amazing metamorphosis into beautiful butterflies and start their migration journey south till the next Spring.
Some of the units we focus on in the winter are hibernation, animal tracks, snow/ice, seasons and weather.

We have been very busy these last few weeks working on our outdoor learning space that we are building in the local neighbourhood forest. The children love working together collecting logs, rocks and natural materials that we will incorporate into our outdoor classroom!
I hope that all of the children in our neighborhood will enjoy playing and learning in our play space. I feel that building a nature classroom will not only help other children become interested in nature but help them to open their minds and discover the world in ways they never imagined!


For more information be sure to visit her Facebook page!

Emily of HomeGrown Childcare

HomeGrown Childcare is an amazing child care program inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach to educating young children. Emily has an amazing way with documentation and you can see her passion for play in the learning stories she shares on her Facebook page. We wish she was local!!

Q: What made you decide to open a home child care program?
A: I made the decision to open HomeGrown after working both in a centre and as a Nanny. I desired to offer children a safe space where they could grow and learn without the constraints of a strict adult agenda. I believe children learn the most from being outdoors-immersed in nature and able to explore freely!

Q: What (if any) educational philosophies influenced your program?
A: Reggio Emilia

Q: What’s your absolute favourite part of the job?
A: Watching the children grow and being able to see their every day accomplishments! There is so much to celebrate as they learn what they can do and what they are capable of.

Q: What would you say is the best part of your program?
A: We spend most of our week outside, as long as it’s not too cold. We bring all our curriculum areas outside to engage in math/science/literacy/art while surrounded by nature. We hike, bike, splash and climb through forests too!

Q: Where do you find inspiration for programming and activities?
A: The children!

Q: What’s the most popular item on your menu?
A: We love pizza!

Q: Best quote from the children you have heard to date:
A: “Oooooo….I’m just so cute!”

Q: Your favourite quote about child care, early learning, play, or children:
A: “A child who sings is a happy child!”

Thank you for sharing your amazing program with us Emily!

For more about HomeGrown Childcare check out the links below!


Carly of The Owl’s Nest: Early Development Centre

It is our great pleasure  to share Carly’s wonderful program with you. She is such an inspiration to the early learning community! The Owl’s Nest: Early Development Centre operates in Palmerston, Ontario.

Facebook: @theowlsnestedc

What made you decide to open a home child care program?

For a decade I passionately taught as an Ontario Certified Teacher. I absolutely loved teaching with every ounce of my soul and was constantly learning, bettering my practice and leading workshops. I lived for teaching and child development and fell in love with child-led learning and the Reggio approach to learning and honouring the child. My first pregnancy led to a new level of growth for me, not only in growing a human, but personally as well. Collaborating with our wonderful midwife and the process of informed choice opened a new window and offered a new perspective on how we as adults have choices and that there are other pathways. I felt invigorated, a little overwhelmed and excited that not only had my birth and child rearing options expanded but so did my idea of teaching. Within the first year of our sons birth I knew I needed to make a change. I didn’t want to stop teaching-It was my passion but I also knew I needed to be a part of a bigger change in our community and for my own children. I wanted to see a shift from conventional learning to an approach that trusts children as learners and knows how to foster growth without interfering. I wanted to see children growing and learning life skills that will help them and the earth in order to ensure a better future for all. I wished to provide children with such support and trust that they felt safe to be their true inquisitive selves without self doubt. And most of all I wanted to raise children who didn’t merely “survive” childhood or “turn out ok”; ones that blossomed and really knew themselves, how to handle their emotions and self-regulate from an early age so that they could be who they are without recovery. With the unwavering support of my husband and some ups and downs along the way, we formulated the start of The Owl’s Nest: Early Development Centre. Starting as a nature based childcare in our home we focused on our values: child-led nature play with a focus on honouring play, the development of each child, and the seed to feed process- all full of rich social experiences. It took a leap of faith to get here but wonderful things happen outside our comfort zones. As we evolve we starting to grow into an alternative school that can provide a more modern and intuitive approach to individualized education.

What (if any) educational philosophies influenced your program?

My program is influenced by my education, experience, a touch of Montessori and Waldorf principles and significantly by the Reggio Emilia approach, which is an educational philosophy focused on preschool and primary education. It is a child-centred approach that utilized self-directed, experiential learning in a relationship-driven environment. The focus being on community building, respect for the child as well as the process, exploration, and discovery through a self-guided curriculum.

What’s your absolute favourite part of the job?

My favourite part of my work is being the change I hope to see in the world and seeing the growth and joy of learning in all the children I care for.

What would you say is the best part of your program?

The children say it best, “the clay, sand, swing, mud kitchen, snow, art, building, story time, friends”. The best part of our program is our rich experiences; both in opportunities to play in different and unrestricted ways that children may not play at home (garden, sand, clay, art mediums, etc) and the social aspects and connections that make their experiences even more meaningful. We have a very holistic approach that allows for learning to naturally happen through play and the experiences. Children learn reading, writing, math and sciences throughout their day and in self-initiated (supported by an educator fostering inquiries) ways to create truly authentic pathways and opportunities for further growth.

Where do you find inspiration for programming and activities?

My inspiration comes from the children which is the beauty of a child-led approach. Listening to them and their play always gives ideas to new pathways and levels that I can take my programming and their learning to. I also find inspiration in slowing down for myself, playing alongside them and being outside for long periods of time each day together. Also, Pinterest and other wonderful educators give me ideas too once I have a pathway.

What’s the most popular item on your menu? Share a recipe!

I strongly believe in traditions, routines and how they are rooted in food and our connections. We have a weekly schedule that we follow and it’s some of our simple more ritualistic menu items that are the most popular.

  1. Tea and Treat Thursday’s favourite is fruit kabobs. Simply stack various berries and fruit onto a wooden skewer and it is instant novelty. Bonus, add loose fruit to the children’s plates for an added fine motor activity (they like to try making their own too).
  2. Popcorn Friday’s

Every Friday we end our week with organic popcorn (some that we even grew) popped in coconut oil and Himalayan pink salt and have a picnic together with books in the afternoon.

Best quote from the children you have heard to date:

“The toast has a peanut butter wedgie”-referring to the peanut butter last not being cut through all of the way.

Your favourite quote about child care, early learning, play, or children:


Thank you for sharing a bit about your wonderful program with us!

Lesley Cressman – Faery Childcare

Lesley is one of the founders of NEED and operates an exceptional daycare in the KW Region. So excited to share more about her program with you!

What made you decide to open a home childcare program?

I started my home daycare over 20 years ago. At that time I started to meet the needs of my family. I then returned to college and earned my diploma in Early Childhood Education. I worked in the field in a parent run cooperative and one of our resource programs. I restarted my daycare because a family friend could not find daycare. It was important for me to know the child was well cared for. This child has now moved on to school and I am loving my home daycare What if any educational philosophies influenced your program? So many different concepts have influenced my program Reggio, Waldorf, David Elkind the hurried child, the Forrest School and many of my professors at college. What is your absolute favorite part of the job? I would say the favourite part of my program is my partnerships with my families. I adore the children and parents I work with each day. Notice I said work with, there is no hierarchy, both the parents and I work collectively for the best interests of the children we both adore and care for each day. Now the children would say the best thing in my program is our amazing playground. They are really excited for our gingerbread house to be insulted this spring.

What would you say is the very best part of your program?

The ability to take the time and meet the needs of the kids in my program. I love being able to follow their lead and learning.

Where do you find inspiration for your programming and activities?

In facilitating my own program I am enjoying bringing in our Singing and Signing teacher, spending time in the forest, doing fundraising with other peers, and the children and I support a horse rescue stable.

What is the most popular item on your menu? Share a recipe!

Mac and Cheese is the all time favourite here. Cook noodles easy lol

Cheese Sauce Recipe

Half a can chickpeas pureed 2 cups cauliflower pureed Milk to thin of needed 2 cups crated cheese 1 package of epicure Mac and cheese The kids have no idea there is veggies in he raise

Best quote from the children in your program to date:

“My mommy is a vegetarian but daddy and me, we are meatatrians.” M.


For more about Faery Childcare check out


Ashley of Ashley’s Home Daycare

Hi everyone, I’m really excited to share our first provider profile with you! I’ve been following Ashley’s program on Instagram for awhile and have found her to be such an inspiration; I’m so glad she was willing to take the time to share a little more about her home daycare with us.

Introducing Ashley’s Home Daycare!

What made you decide to open a home child care program?

My passion for caring for children really began with my nephews. I just loved playing with them and loved witnessing and being apart of their raw joy and excitement. Once my daughter was born I became really interested in learning about different parenting and early childhood educational philosophies. I was also inspired by my sister, who had started her own home daycare. I did a lot of thinking and soul searching before my maternity leave with my daughter was up and decided I would take the plunge into providing a home away from home for a few other children. I ran my home daycare in Toronto for about a year before we decided to move to Spain for my husband’s career. We lived in Spain for 2 years and moved back to Canada a couple of months after my son was born. Once I was ready to start working again I knew I wanted to re-open my home daycare here in Kitchener.

What (if any) educational philosophies influenced your program?

I have read a fair amount about the Montessori, Reggio Emilia, and Waldorf educational philosophies. While all three have some major differences, I find inspiration in all of them. I love the teaching of practical life skills, but I am also so drawn to the beauty of free play and allowing the child’s imagination and creativity to flourish by providing many open ended toys, loose parts, and the time and space to let them explore.

What’s your absolute favourite part of the job?

There are many perks to the job but I would have to say my absolute favourite is watching the children’s relationships grow with each other and myself. It is so so sweet to see two toddlers go and grab books and crawl up on the couch beside each other or look at each other with a silly face and just laugh and laugh and laugh. Or when someone gets hurt and another child quickly comes over to rub their back, it’s in those moments I know I chose the right profession and that these kids are learning so much love and empathy by growing together.

What would you say is the best part of your program?

The best part of my program is our walks through the nearby trail and our outside play. We like to spend a lot of time outdoors and have a lot of fun in our backyard. The children also really love the songs we sing every morning and even my youngest 15-month-old knows all the actions.

Where do you find inspiration for programming and activities?

I am totally addicted to Pinterest and Instagram for finding activities to set up for the kids, but I would say the biggest inspiration has to come from the kids themselves. As their play evolves I take cues from them and add more supplies or materials I know would interest them.

What’s the most popular item on your menu? Share a recipe! 🙂

A favourite snack are these pumpkin muffins. I like that they have some whole wheat flour instead of just white flour and they have some maple syrup so you don’t need as much sugar. What makes them even better is if you get the kids involved in making them. We use the mini muffin tray and bake for just 20 minutes.
Recipe URL:

Best quote from the children you have heard to date:

One day one of my kids was playing with the toy birthday cake and she sang happy birthday once through with every child’s name and then she sang it again with “to all my friends” and I just thought it was really sweet that she wanted to include everyone and refers to them as all her friends.

Your favourite quote about child care, early learning, play, or children:

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning.” – Mr. Rogers


Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions Ashley!

For more about Ashley’s Home Daycare be sure to check out her Facebook and Instagram 🙂