Mom's Words About Ashley:
Ashley was meant to teach children. When she arrived for the interview, Adam and Sadie came out to greet her and she spent the first few minutes with them, sitting down with them on our walkway. After they finally walked her in the house, we spoke a bit and then asked if she would like to take a walk. The kids immediately grabbed her hand and by the end of the walk, Adam told Ashley he loved her and we all did!
Ashley has thegreat energy and the patience, maturity and creativity necessary to be a great teacher. She also understands the importance of teaching manners, independence, responsibility and discipline.
Each day, she teaches Adam and Sadie without them even knowing it. Over the past almost 5 months, Ashley has taken her teaching responsibilities very seriously. She would never just plop the kids down in front of a television for the afternoon. She takes any regular activity and puts a special "Ashley spin" on it to push the kids to think, dream and gain greater confidence. She is constantly focusing on the kids' different interests to enhance their creativity, physical, emotional, intellectual and social development. The kids have deep respect, admiration and special love for Ashley.
We, as the parents also love Ashley. It is hard to think of Ashley as our "employee." She is really part of our team. Ashley is open-minded, flexible and willing to try new activities as well as makes great suggestions for our "little class". She is helpful, insightful, a great communicator and such a delight to be around. When we go to our workplaces, we know Ashley shares our philosophy regarding teaching, discipline, activities, development and general care giving which in turn, makes our lives a little less stressful. We are so happy to have Ashley as part of our team and as part of our family. We hope she will stay with us for many years."
Lori S., Analyst and Mother, Virginia
June 2007: Ashley's Reflections on her first six months
"I have been teaching with this wonderful family for almost six months...
The family welcomed me so graciously with open arms into their home, and I sensed that a deep bond would be formed very quickly. My connection with Adam (age 5) and Sadie (age 3) was immediately recognizable, and it was evident that I had made the best decision possible by joining this amazing team.
Adam attends a pre-K transition class at a local elementary school Monday through Friday, and Sadie goes to a preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays in the morning. By interacting with other children on a regular basis, they are gaining the knowledge they need to find out who they are as individuals. That knowledge combined with the lessons that I try to instill in them through imaginative play, field trips to local sites, and exercises in gross and fine motor skills provide them with a firm foundation for their future academic and social development.
When they are not at school, we're most likely doing our activities in the basement, taking nature walks throughout the local parks, or curled on the couch reading a new book from the library. I have found that even the simplest of tasks, such as grocery shopping, can be transformed into an "educational" outing. Discovering new ideas, places, and people teachesAdam and Sadieto become more autonomous as they venture out into uncharted territory.
On most mornings, I simply ask them to tell me "what they're feeling today" and ask that they talk about their reflections. There is nothing more rewarding than watching Sadie's big brown eyes light up because she immediately has a story to tell. By listening intently and giving my full attention, Sadie and Adam can gain confidence in their own capacity to express themselves and their own opinions.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays Sadie and I attend different story times at local bookstores. Because of my background in English, I'm quite partial to any activity that involves reading. However, I value not only the exposure to reading, but also the experience Sadie receives by interacting with her peers. By including her in larger group settings where she is unfamiliar with her surroundings, she is becoming more aware of her own personal space and that of others as a way to control her impulsive behavior.
Adam, Sadie, and I have our official "teaching" time every afternoon in which we work on various projects and academic units. Each month I introduce a new "theme" that will be incorporated into our daily routine. Our themes have covered the changing seasons, different jobs in the community, nutrition, different types of families, and what it means to be a part of a team. I must say that my favorite lesson so far has been helping them to learn about Washington D.C.Sadie and Adam recognize all of the monuments, and it is wonderful to take them driving in the city and to listen to them point out everything that they recognize! I can actually see that my efforts are paying off immediately, which is the best and most rewarding feeling that I could ever have!
In addition, I love our special time after I arrive in the morning when we read the newspaper together. Immediately, Adam looks for a picture of the local weather and the date in the top corner of the page. Sadie rushes to find the crossword and Sudoku puzzles, which she knows are my favorite parts of the paper. For the next few minutes, they flip through different sections of the paper just observing the pictures and phrases that they might recognize.
Our journey together is an ongoing process that changes every minute, and I would not want it any other way. Even though I am supposed to be teaching Adam and Sadie, I find them teaching me all the time. Each day they challenge me in a new way that motivates me to keep exploring my own self. We have a mutually dependent bond that can never be broken. Their influence on my life is so meaningful and rich, and I believe that we truly bring out the best in each other."
December, 2008: Ashley's Reflections On Her First Year
Adam recently turned six, and Sadie will turn four this week! Both kids are extremely energetic and passionate about so many things. It is impossible not to be motivated by their dynamic spirit!
Adam started kindergarten this fall and is doing GREAT!He continues to exceed all of our expectations each day and is thriving wonderfully at school. Tasks such as writing letters
had proved challenging in the past. However, Adam now completes his most challenging tasks with
little trouble. Watching his eyes light up as he discusses his daily activities truly fills my heart with joy. I could not be more proud of his improvement!
I set up table time almost every day with Adam.We practice working on gross and fine motor skills. We also practice cutting out shapes, and planning out the steps required to complete fun activities such as an art project or memory/matching games. Of course, we enjoy daily physical games as well.
By combining the efforts of Adams teachers, and parents, there is no doubt in my mind that Adam can accomplish anything that he sets his mind to. He truly is a gifted individual with so much to offer to those around him!
Sadie attends preschool in the mornings. She has developed the most vivacious personality that I have ever witnessed in a child. Her smile and sweet disposition are infectious; it is IMPOSSIBLE not to fall in love with Sadie!
I have watched her evolve so much over the last year, and her development provides me with the highest level of gratification possible. I could not be prouder of my Peanut (my nickname for Sadie)!
Each week I introduce a theme that will be the main topic for our activities. We have covered a very broad range of subjects including: the historical sites in
, different types of families that can exist, various sports, distinguishing between reality and the imagination, and everything in between!
Day to day activities such as free play, coloring, and reading center around the theme for the week but allow for an enormous amount of creativity. I try to take them on at least one related field trip every week. Ive found that some of our best teaching sessions revolve around spontaneous discussions while we are walking to the park or the grocery store.
Both Adam and Sadie are avid readers. We have at least 30-45 minutes of reading time per day. The reading choices for the day lie completely in their hands. While I do suggest that they pick books centering on our theme for the week, I fully believe that they should be able to choose what they want to read specifically. Obviously, there are some books that weve read at least 50 times, but each reading offers new insight into the story.
In addition, Sadie and Adam possess the most active imaginations, which always present refreshing endeavors. Their interest in free play never seems to diminish. We spend hours in the basement cooking in their kitchen, exercising, putting on costumes, working on puzzles and art projects, and dancing. Often, Audra and Ardro (their imaginary friends) join us in our play time, which is always amusing!
In conclusion, I must emphasize that Im not the only one teaching in this situation. Sadie and Adam inspire me each day. I am a better teacher, friend, and person in general just for having known them. My love for them is so special and unique, and I will carry that adoration with me for the rest of my life.
Ashley TR, TeacherCaregiver