How do you play this game?

(Dear Reader, this blog is a bit different from some of the others, because the topic is specific for my fellow child care leaders in Ontario. I wrestled with whether or not to express my thoughts publically, however it’s weighed heavy on my mind and heart as my colleagues and I  have expressed being overwhelmed & feeling despair. Thank you for allowing me to advocate for a profession that is my proud identity.)  

As a child after receiving a new game, family game night would be a test in self-restraint & patience. My father would carefully read aloud the instructions & rules, in small sections so my sister & I would not be overwhelmed. We would have a “practice” play where the goal was to learn how to play vs. compete against one another. If someone “broke” a rule during the first couple of tries the transgression would be forgiven & the error explained.  We would laugh in amazement as my little sister with a memory beyond her years would rack up the matching objects in our favourite game Husker Du.

Image result for Husker Du

The child care community is spinning as the long awaited Child Care and Early Years Act (CCEYA) was unveiled in Aug. 2015, & subsequent revisions in May 2016.Going through the changes as a 28 year veteran in the field of Ontario Child care, there were over thirty new points that I was unaware of. The overall mood from the child care supervisor’s is one of fear of what we do not know & the new penalizing system of heavy fines for infractions/non-compliance.

The challenges the government faces are; to enforce compliance, provide transparency to the public, ensure quality programs are delivered, & ensure safety of children is paramount.

Recently I heard that we are a “relaxed organization”. I had to think about whether or not I like that assumption. If the person means they feel safe, then I like it as I have been influenced by Simon Sinek and his TED Talk “Why good leaders make you feel safe”. If they have misinterpreted our leadership model of kindness as lackadaisical in following regulations, they are mistaken.  Simply, I want our staff to be motivated in their daily work out of love & their beliefs not fear that they will make a mistake or afraid they will do something wrong (which is a phrase that makes me cringe.)

This leadership philosophy holds the image of the educator as being; knowledgeable, reflective, resourceful and rich in experience. “How does learning happen?”.

In learning to play the new “game” with new instructions & rules for the CCEYA the Ministry of Education should take a page out of my dad’s parenting book:

1. Read the rules slowly & carefully.

The Ministry should hold information regulation, instruction sessions in all Ontario communities. Break up the new information into bite sized segments so leaders have time to absorb, reflect and translate its implementation into their organization’s culture.


2. Give time to pretend play.

Allow operators the opportunity to go through licensing without penalties for breaking newly learned rules.


3. Learn from mistakes.

Approach compliance from a coaching and mentoring with negotiated timelines for compliance when resources can be accessed.


4. Have fun & be amazed.

Give accolades to operators who on their own continuum of learning, with challenges & barriers have moved forward towards Ontario’s vision for early years.

I want to lead, inspire & invite our staff to learn about the regulations, why they are in place & how we can weave them into our organization’s values and daily practice to make our corner of the world a better place to live, work & play.


(A weaving art project Growing Together staff completed during training on the Program Statement, which will be fastened together as a symbolic message of how beliefs, regulations & daily practice can be woven together into a collective mosaic of beauty)

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