I grew up in Vermont with one older brother. Surrounded by dense woods as a child, I populated the world around me with my imagination and am forever grateful for that early access to nature and creative thinking. I still enjoy any time I can find in nature, and am an especially avid swimmer, biker, and runner. I studied English Literature at Columbia University where I graduated in 2019. In college I was the president of the Shakespeare troupe and spent most of my time immersed in theater. In the last year, however, I have been pursuing a career in illustration and 2D animation. I recently completed my first illustrated children's book, /Grandma's House/, by Bonnie Seideman, to be published in November, 2020! Children's books were so important to me as a young reader, and I have a deep, enduring love for children's literature. Storytelling and imaginative thinking have always been incredibly useful tools for me in teaching and in keeping young learners engaged. I look forward to bringing an imaginative and joyful spirit into all the child-care work I take on.
I began babysitting when I was 12 years old and child care has remained a large part of my life in the 12 years since. I truly began understanding the care and practice of working with children when I entered into the Counselor in Training Program at Lotus Lake Camp, where I worked from the age of 15-20. The rigorous training program, which included lifeguard, CPR, and first-aid certification, was aimed at teaching us young people how to interact with, teach, and bring joy into our relationships with kids in both a classroom and individual setting. I later became the head counselor of the 8 year olds, a group known for being particularly challenging as kids begin to understand adult language cues and experience changes in comprehension and social relationships. I was also the head of the woodshop for two years, which presented its own challenges in keeping kids safe while they handled complex tools.
After leaving camp, I continued to babysit and nanny while living in the city. Previously I worked largely with kids ages 5-11, but as a nanny that age group was expanded and I began to work with much younger children. I recently worked for a family with a two year old daughter who spoke French and Turkish, but was new to English. The family had only arrived in New York a few weeks before I began working with them, and they had yet to find an apartment. They were in three temporary locations before finally settling into their new home, and I worked closely with the grandparents, parents, and child during this difficult period of adjustment. The child and I grew very close, and I helped her gain comfort in English and begin to form connections outside her very close family unit.
I also have wide experience working in a part-time capacity with families. I am happy in a nanny/family relationship and in a casual sitter relationship. I have one family that I have worked with for about 3 years part-time. I appreciate those relationships and the trust involved in long-term part-time child care. I have changed diapers, kept antsy kids in their strollers, and wrangled five year old twins. I am very familiar with schools like Dalton and the Brownstone school and their procedures and requirements for pick and drop off.
I am a visual artist and illustrator, and I believe that imagination is one of the most important tools in child-care. My background in theater has taught me how to bring that imagination into a productive playful space. I believe that every moment with a kid is an opportunity for teaching, and that the best lessons are ones that are taught with joy and true engagement. Working with large groups of over 20 kids at a time has taught me how to effectively engage kids while still remaining in control of the space. I am an honest care-giver, and I use intentional communication in my relationships with kids and with their parents.
Growing up is hard and problems always arise, but every problem can be talked through and turned into an opportunity for a young person to grow and adjust and become more comfortable and confident with themselves. I do not yell or engage in agitated punishment. I think that authority can be established through patience and firmness rather than discipline alone. I have never solved a melt down or tantrum with yelling. Young kids can often have a hard time in learning to control their emotions, especially when it comes to bad or hurt feelings, but tantrums are a part of learning. My first step is always to use gentle communication. If the child has access to language, I first ask them to, in their own time, explain to me where the feelings are coming from. Often logic is absent in a tantrum and that is okay! Vocalizing your feelings can be a huge step in understanding and then controlling them. I try not to judge any response a child gives me in a state of upset and instead accept and take in their answer. When a child sees this acceptance it often helps in removing the urgency of a tantrum. In toddlers this sometimes doesn't matter, in which case I let the tears run their course, allow the necessary time to rest, and when calm is back, sit down and have a real conversation about what caused the upset and how it felt and how to resort to words or questions before tears and yelling. Even in kids as young as two or three, a genuine conversation about the child's feelings can really help in slowing down future tantrums. Toddlers especially are right in the midst of learning how to understand their family and care-givers as people separate from themselves. The best way to teach empathy is by really engaging in empathetic behavior with a kid. If a child hits or resorts to cruel words, I always explain why those actions hurt and affect me, to remind the child that I have my own body and feelings and that the expectation is that every persons body and feelings be treated with kindness and respect.
I love using games as a way to teach, and I love having kids help me in creating their own games. I believe that using a schedule, especially in full-time care, can be a great way to teach young children the value of their own time and can act as a step towards autonomy.
Because I am an artist, I absolutely love teaching kids how to draw and am constantly surprised by the wonderful and wacky creatures that kids dream up and place on paper. I also have experience in teaching kids ages 3-6 early reading techniques. Reading is one of my absolute favorite passtimes, and I find that many kids under the age of 5 often look forward to and want to engage with books even before they are introduced to the alphabet in school. In college I studied English literature with a particular focus on the modernism of the early 20th century and on Shakespeare's plays and poetry. I started reading Shakespeare with my mom when I was about 6 and, though I didn't understand two words strung together, I quickly learned to love the sound of the language. Kids are wonderful sponges with the most beautiful powerful minds. They learn so quickly and they are so attentive to the sensational world around them. It is our responsibility, then, to be careful and generous in the care we provide. Learning happens at every stage of childhood in every area of life. Teaching kids how to engage with language and reading is as important to me as offering guidance in how to be a kind and respectful member of a peer group. It's a cliche, but the best teaching method is often through modeling the behavior you want to generate. I think kids are brilliant, and as a care giver, I always try to treat kids with genuine respect. I never condescend to kids, and I try to be as curious as they are about the world.