July 2021 Newsletter – Exploring Leadership: Building Children’s Leadership Skills

Early childhood is a time of much growth and development. Families and educators tend to focus on boosting physical and academic skills to prepare children for their journey into the world. There is rarely a block on the lesson plan for leadership skills practice. The good news is, leadership skills can be embedded into all sorts of activities. Be sure to keep in mind children’s unique developmental needs as you adopt some of these ideas into your work with children.

  • Encourage children to make choices. Point out the choices children make and the outcomes (both positive and negative) of those decisions. Talk about how you make decisions. Use words like decide and decision
  • Teach children how to make plans. Hold simple conversations with small groups of children about their plans for outdoor play later in the day. Ask if there are any materials the children think they might need to enact their plans. Review how plans came together with the children. It’s okay if the plans don’t come to fruition, or if they change. That happens in life all the time! Talk about it.
  • Create roles for children to step into that require leadership skills. There could be a clean-up inspector, who makes sure toys and dining tables are cleaned up properly. You could ask a child who has been with the program for a while to act as a peer mentor for a new child. Let children take part in orienting new children to the learning environment.
  • Allow children to solve problems. You may need to assist children with this task but resist the urge to solve the problem for them. Help children see options for addressing conflicts and problems that arise.
  • Read books that contain characters who display leadership skills. Be sure to have meaningful conversations about how the character acted and reacted in different situations. If you see a child displaying a leadership quality similar to ones in the literature, recognize the child and the action and add, “…just like the character in the book we read the other day.” You might also say, “What do you think X from our book this week would do in this situation?”
  • Encourage children to talk to one another. Give them sample language to use to express their wants and needs to others.
  • Recognize effort and initiative. Things won’t turn out perfectly, they are kids. But let children know you notice the efforts they took. This will send a powerful message about hard work, taking risks, and doing your very best.
  • Play cooperative games that require children to work together to accomplish tasks. Small group work can have the same impact and will allow you to work with individual children better than trying to manage the whole group.

How do you instill leadership skills in the children in your care?  Tell us on Facebook.

For the main article Exploring LeadershipCLICK HERE

For the article Important Leadership SkillsCLICK HERE

For the article Leadership StylesCLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team MembersCLICK HERE

July 2021 Student Spotlight – Shalini Tyagi

My career in early childhood education began when my son started going to Montessori school.  I loved the environment and the methods used and decided to do a Montessori certification.  My love for children and their learning and growth also helped me make the decision to pursue early childhood education as a career.

My favorite time of the day is circle time where all the children are sitting together and participating in different activities. They get involved and ask questions and it’s a lot of fun.  I love it!  Sometimes, they would ask me to read their favorite books for them.  The children love to play outside and explore the environment especially during the spring season when we do gardening projects, they love to water their plants and watch them grow.  Helping children learn and grow is the most rewarding for me. Their endless energy and curiosity amaze me and motivates me.  I love children and interacting with them, answering their questions.  I enjoy seeing them learn and grow.

I currently live in Denver, Colorado.  In my free time, I love to go shopping, having coffee with friends, reading books, and gardening.  I would like to own and run my own school in the future and continue to pursue an education that is relevant for my career growth.

I completed the Director’s Certificate with ChildCare Education Institute and I have already recommended the program to a friend from the education field.  It was a great experience working at my own pace and the curriculum was very helpful to my current and future career goals.  I would love to take additional courses with CCEI that I know will help with my career advancement in the near future.

July 2021 Newsletter – Exploring Leadership: Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team Members

One of the most powerful things you can do to build leadership skills is to model what it means to be a strong leader. To develop leadership skills among your team, you have to develop leadership skills within yourself.

Your staff will count on you for guidance and support during challenging times. They may mimic the language you use when talking with families and children. They might look to you for an example of how to respond to different situations – to see what is acceptable and what is not.

Additionally, you will need to create opportunities for employees to practice leadership skills. Here are a few ideas of how you can build leadership opportunities into your program:

  • Identify and work with people’s strengths. Capitalize on the talents and strengths of your team members. Match leadership opportunities to the interests and skills of individuals on the team.
  • Find ways to delegate tasks to team members. Identify tasks that you can pass along to others to manage. Provide clear expectations but allow room for creativity and individual expression. The outcome may not resemble how you would have done it, but your employees will feel trusted and empowered. If something needs to be fixed due to policies or regulations, you will need to provide feedback on that, but the reward will be worth it.
  • Create leadership positions that people can step into. The program may already have an assistant director position, but there may be an opportunity to elevate openers and closers to leadership positions based on the extra responsibilities they have. You could create positions for an infant and toddler coordinator, curriculum specialist, school-age lead, etc. Identify individuals who are interested in being coaches or mentors. These folks will take an active role in new hire orientation and supporting their coworkers who are building skills in various areas.
  • Ask employees to facilitate discussions at staff meetings. Someone could review the minutes from the last meeting or provide updates on important initiatives. Employees could share information about an article they read. They could talk about what they learned at a recent training they attended. Perhaps a staff member could lead a brainstorming session about summer camp planning.
  • Involve teachers in your family engagement efforts. Have a teacher representative present at family committee meetings.
  • Create subcommittees to plan projects, professional development days, and other events. You don’t have to do it all yourself.
  • Empower employees by asking for solutions rather than fixing the situations. It may be easy for you to identify a solution and solve the problem for your employees. However, doing so robs them of the opportunity to put their skills to use to collaborate with others, compromise, and make decisions for themselves. As employees open-ended questions about the situation. Guide them to think of solutions and choose the one that they are most comfortable with. These are important skills to practice and as these skills develop, you will see fewer cases of employees coming to you to solve their problems for them.
  • Share leadership opportunities in the community. Invite team members to participate in local child care committees or organizations. NAEYC has many local affiliates that provide leadership opportunities. Share advocacy initiatives, such as visiting lawmakers or organizing events that promote the field of ECE.

Above all, it will be important to create a culture in which it is safe to take risks and make mistakes. It is much easier to step up if you know that you will be supported if you fall.

For the main article Exploring Leadership, CLICK HERE

For the article Important Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Leadership Styles, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Children’s Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

July 2021 Newsletter – Exploring Leadership: Leadership Styles

Many experts have studied leadership over the years and have created categories of leadership based on the traits of the leaders and their behaviors. There is a wide variety in these categories or leadership styles, with some lists containing three styles of leadership while others contain ten.  Generally speaking, experts have helped us define the following leadership styles:

  • Transactional leadership uses rewards and consequences as a means of ensuring productivity. When group members meet goals, they receive rewards. If goals are not met, consequences are put in place.
  • Authoritarian or autocratic leadership is characterized by a top-down organizational structure. All decisions, details, and expectations are determined by the leader in charge of the group. Team members complete responsibilities but have little to no say in the direction of projects or tasks.
  • Participative or democratic leadership occurs when leaders involve the team members in the decision-making process, sometimes through voting or other consensus-reaching activity. Ultimately, leaders determine the direction of projects, but details are determined by the group.
  • Transformational leadership focuses on the continuous improvement of products and teams. Groups are encouraged to make changes for the betterment of all involved.
  • Delegative leadership involves very little direction from the leader of the group. These leaders take a very hands-off approach to managing tasks. Team members make decisions and complete the work.
  • Bureaucratic leadership relies on a set of well-established rules, policies, and expectations to accomplish tasks. These leaders create environments where all possible variables have been predicted and procedures exist to address these variables.
  • Charismatic leadership capitalizes on the positive energy of the person leading the group to motivate and inspire. Teams rally around the leader and their vision for the program or project.
  • Coaching or instructional leadership focuses attention on improving the unique skills of the individuals on the team. As skills improve, so too, do outcomes and productivity.
  • Strategic leadership uses a wide variety of information to establish and achieve long-term planning goals for an organization or team.

You may be familiar with other styles of leadership and you may have heard those listed referred to using a different name.  It is important to note, that each leadership style has benefits and drawbacks.  Some styles work better in certain situations than other styles. It’s almost as if leadership is most effective when it is responsive or situational.

Interestingly, some experts recommend that leaders adopt what is called the situational leadership style, which calls for leaders to adjust how they manage teams and make decisions based on the particular situations that arise.

This makes sense if you think about all of the different situations that emerge in an early learning environment. Leaders need to respond differently when emergencies occur than they do during staff meetings. Quality improvement initiatives required a particular leadership approach that might not be effective to address employee absenteeism.

This means that leaders must possess strengths across many different leadership styles so they can transition smoothly between them as needed.

You can read more about situational leadership here.

For the main article Exploring Leadership, CLICK HERE

For the article Important Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Children’s Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team Members, CLICK HERE

July 2021 Newsletter – Exploring Leadership: Important Leadership Skills

A quick search on the internet for leadership skills will return results such as:

  • The 4 Key Leadership Skills
  • The 7 Essential Skills you Need to Lead
  • Top 10 Leadership Skills
  • The 25 Leadership Skills for Success
  • And over 900 million other similarly titled results

There is no shortage of information out there on leadership skills and what they look like in the workplace.  We won’t be generating our own list of The Top 47 Essential Leadership Skills You Need to Succeed here. You are likely aware that the ability to communicate clearly, inspire, make decisions, and problem solve are pretty important leadership skills. Being ethical, supportive, responsive, knowledgeable, energetic, and consistent are other important leadership skills… we could go on and on.

You know what good leadership looks like because you have seen strong leaders in action.  And if you are like most of us, you know what good leadership looks like because you have experienced bad leadership, with the missing skills being glaringly obvious.

So, what explains the difference between good leaders and poor leaders?  Two people could have the same level of education, the same number of years of experience in the field, same expectations, and even use the same language, but one would be considered a good leader and the other would miss the mark.

Consider, for a moment, that one difference may be an underlying desire for knowledge. Effective leaders are confident in the knowledge they possess AND they are on the lookout for opportunities to learn more. They are not only seeking additional technical information. To be more supportive, they learn about their employees. They build relationships so they can learn more about the children and families they serve. They willingly enter into situations that challenge their perspectives to see if they hold up or if there is room to adapt and grow.

Effective leaders are constantly learning. They recognize that there are opportunities to learn something new from countless sources. They know there is always room for improvement for their teams and themselves. And they are open to all of it.

For the main article Exploring Leadership, CLICK HERE

For the article Leadership Styles, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Children’s Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team Members, CLICK HERE

July 2021 Newsletter – Exploring Leadership

If you have spent any time living and working among others, you have probably found yourself in a situation with a group of people wondering, “Who is in charge here?”.  In these situations we attempt to identify the people we assume would (or should) take on the leadership role(s), often without realizing that others in the group may be looking to us to be that leader.

In a traditional sense, leadership comes with a title.  The director is the leader of the program.  The supervisor is the leader of the team. The teacher is the leader in the classroom.

But in a real-world sense, leaders are everywhere, at every level of every organization, with and without designated titles. Children can be leaders in the classroom, assistant teachers can be leaders at staff meetings, and individuals new to the field can be leaders during advocacy events.  It is for this reason that experts across many fields promote the development of leadership skills, regardless of title or position.

In this month’s newsletter and blog, we will dig into different aspects of leadership, including how to develop it in ourselves, our teams, and the children in our care.

For the article Important Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Leadership Styles, CLICK HERE

For the article Building Children’s Leadership Skills, CLICK HERE

For the article Director’s Corner – Building Leadership among Team Members, CLICK HERE