IMAGES: NEIGHBORS, FAMILY HEALTH AND BETTER LIVING
Teachers make the grade in day care
By Tom Hernandez
Day Caregiver Chris Komperda (of TeacherCare) helps 2-year old Sydney Sharkey pick out toy utensils. Komperda, who has a bachelor’s degree in child developments, sneaks education into her job as part of the child’s play time. “I want people to know and understand that I wasn’t just a babysitter.”
It’s a fear many parents share.
You drop your kids off at daycare or leave them home with the nanny and go to work.
But some children, in perhaps the most important stages of their psychological development, do nothing more stimulating than stare at television all day.
Schaumburg’s Ron and Beth Sharkey had much the same concerns about two years ago as they searched for someone to watch their kids.
The Sharkeys found an answer to their dilemma at TeacherCare Inc., a Schaumburg private agency that places teachers in homes.
The unique twist on traditional daycare is starting to catch the attention of parents who also want a little more for their kids than a day of Sesame Street and Barney videos.
Terri Brax, 34, started TeacherCare in her home three years ago after working several years at NCR, taking a few years off to complete her MBA and Education classes and wanting to return to work.
She and a close friend talked about their problems finding a caregiver they were comfortable with, Brax said in her Schaumburg office.
“I had education in my background so I know how important it was for (kids) to have something else to do besides be confined inside all day,” she said.
Then one day, her friend, who had a particularly difficult experience with a nanny, hired a teacher to care for her kids.
The teacher “lit up the room,” Brax said, entertaining her three children and friend’s two kids, while also slipping in some teaching.
Brax saw an opportunity, and began calling on contacts.
Her agency requires caregivers to have a bachelor’s degree in child development or a child-related field, Brax said.
“We’re looking for someone who sparkles,” she said, realizing that children tend to pay more attention and react more positively to enthusiastic people.
Most of the people her agency places with families have come from some kind of teaching or daycare background. But they have become frustrated with the challenge of teaching large classes, or the inflexibility of traditional education. TeacherCare poses detailed….