Elevating leaders to co-create a cohesive approach to early learning.

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Approach and Impact

For a child, every moment counts. How does a child learn kindness, empathy, and respect for others? As the adults in children’s lives, it’s our responsibility to model for children the best of what it means to be human.

Leading for Children has developed a groundbreaking mutual learning approach that brings together families, educators, and communities, because it takes all the adults in the child’s eco-system.

Mutual learning is equity in action. Our programs and resources support communities where all voices are respected and heard. Individuals increasingly see themselves as agents of change for children, and they cultivate equitable partnerships that create ripples of change across the early learning ecosystem.

Stories of Impact

When I arrived in the U.S. from Brazil 22 years ago, my first job was at a daycare. I knew right away that the early child care field was the right fit for me. I love working with kids because I can help them develop and teach them to do the right thing. I feel motivated when I see their gains in learning. When I started the Leading for Children’s mutual learning program, I was the only home care provider in the room. As an immigrant, mother of three, and non-native English speaker, there were many barriers for me, but I have always felt welcome here.

Mutual learning creates space for exploratory conversations and relationship building. We broke out in smaller groups to discuss topics and brainstorm. By talking with other Learning Network members, I have learned about resources that have been helpful to families I serve. This helps to break down silos within the early learning field. Now, I am more intentional, and I actively refine my communication. I’ve shared the concept of intentionality with my staff and my children. I see the ripple effect of positive outcomes in the field.

The Learning Network always felt like a safe space, where all members can be ourselves. We were always respected by the program leaders and the rest of the group. I wish that everyone had a chance to participate in this. It is very personal. It touches me and makes me think about many things—from early childhood education to my family to my community.

Karina Soares, Family Child Care Provider, California


Mutual learning with Leading for Children is a reminder that all the adults in early learning are working for that same goal, for the children. We talk about perspective-taking a lot, and that reminds me to take a breath and try to understand what the other person is thinking. If our goal is the same, I know we can get there. This is when it really clicks for me: Instead of just reacting, I can actively feel myself pause and say, let’s talk about this in a different way. This way, I can contribute to finding solutions.

I’ve really been trying to be more aware of my impact. We talk about it to kids a lot, but plenty of adults could benefit from hearing it too — is the impact of my words helpful or hurtful? Am I contributing to the solution? Sometimes you just don’t need to say anything. I’ve realized that I have a choice.

That’s where the LFC Optimistic Leadership framework has really helped. You have foundational commitments to fall back on. Sometimes what we learn during professional development doesn’t stick, but this is different; the Learning Network is not just a conference that lasts an hour and a half with a couple of handouts. This is an active effort to build a community across the state. The Learning Network makes concepts applicable to your life and your work, and so you keep doing it and it stays relevant. It’s real life, and it’s you. You are the one who has to be self-aware. You have to choose to communicate this way. It becomes part of who you are.

— Casey Sims, Teacher, Alabama