TK History

by Terri Lynn Hart

owner/operator of TK

IMG_2019This is a historical account of how TK came to be, and how and why I have chosen childcare for my career.

I have always had an avid interest in children and Child Development. My favorite course in high school (with the possible exception of Art) was Child Development. I was babysitting kids, including a little boy with cerebral palsy, from my earliest teenage years. I was good at it. I liked the kids and they liked me. I was responsible and trustworthy, so the parents liked me as well! I also spent some time while in high school volunteering at a home for special needs children, and enjoyed the experience immensely.

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IMG_1377As a teenager I also had a strong interest in horses and dogs, as well as law enforcement. I tried many careers when I was younger, mostly having to do with animals and/or law enforcement. I have groomed dogs and cats, trained dogs, worked in an animal shelter, a pet shop and a boarding kennel. I also tried being a security guard, and I went through the police reserve academy. I even tried a more traditional office job as a filing clerk. At one point I attended Platt College to study drafting and subsequently worked at General Dynamics as a Mechanical Drafter.

But, in my spare time, I kept coming back to kids. On the weekends, I would either be asked to babysit or, in the event that I couldn’t get a paying job, I would recruit a kid! I’d take them to the zoo, or for a hike, or for a ride on my horse. Again, they loved me, I loved them, and the parents found me a responsible caregiver.

At some point during my pregnancy with my son, Nicholas, I was miserably hunched over a file cabinet filing papers that meant nothing to me. I devised the dream of having an in-home childcare after my baby was born.  At the time I was a single parent so I was torn between the need to make a living and the desire to stay home and raise my own child. A childcare seemed the obvious answer.

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IMG_0792In November of 1982, six weeks after my son Nicholas, was born, I started my first childcare.  I named that childcare “Round-the-Clock” childcare.

About three years later I met my husband, Bob, and moved away from “Round-the-Clock”. While I turned my first childcare over to my mother, Bob encouraged me to follow my dream, and I started college, majoring in Child Development. During that time I also worked in a private school. I started out as a night janitor, then moved around within that school as a Kindergarten Teacher, After School Teacher, until, finally, I was head of the Extended Day Program in charge of over 50 children.  After a couple of very successful and enjoyable years in college, and a very educational time working for the private school, my passion for teaching and childcare was affirmed.

In the meantime, my mother’s childcare, “Round-the-Clock” was flourishing, and she wanted to expand. She offered to help me buy a house to once again open my own home childcare.

In October of 1989 I opened a second home childcare we called “Round-the-Clock, Phase Two” with the idea that my mother would take the younger children (infants and toddlers) and then I would take the preschoolers and older children.

Eventually, I re-named my childcare Terri’s Kids (TK) and opened my doors to all ages, and my Mother started offering preschool curriculum in her program.

We still compared notes on an almost daily basis, and worked together planning curriculum and such, but our two facilities worked pretty much independently of each other until my mother retired in March of 2007, only to be stricken with cancer and tragically pass away in February of 2008.

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DSCN0003My background in nurturing (animals and children), dog training and law enforcement helped me form the foundation for many of the philosophies I have today, but my love for children has driven the passion for all this time. My short time in college has sparked an interest in the education of young children, and has proven to be a springboard for my own personal research. I love learning from books, friends, parents, teachers and other childcare professionals. Most of my success in childcare has come from years of this type of learning, practical experience and an ability to learn new things and incorporate them as I go along.

I made the decision to home-school my son, Nick, which only added to my interest in early childhood and elementary education. Nick is now graduated from high school, has moved away from home, inherited his Grandmother’s house, and is going to junior college part-time. I am very proud of him. He works at TK part time.

In addition to TK, Bob and I also cared for a few foster children. In February of 2014 we were blessed with a little girl foster child, whom we affectionately call “The RoseBug” or “The ‘Bug”. (You can click here to read more about her on my blog.) After fostering her for two years Bob and I have decided to adopt The ‘Bug, and make her our own! And that process is in motion…

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Today, Bob still encourages me to follow my dreams and TK still flourishes. Recently I was talking to my (much) younger brother, who is currently trying different careers, and trying to find his “passion”, much as I was trying to do when I was his age. He said he wanted to find something that he loved doing as much as I loved childcare. In retrospect, I must say that children have always been my passion, and that caring for them at TK is a veritable Dream Come True!

In the past three decades, I have been blessed with over 300 children moving in and out of my TK Family. Some of them have grown up with me, and some of them have even come back to work for me at TK. Seeing how they have matured brings me great satisfaction, probably much the same as a grandmother feels when she is with her grandchildren.

I love all the kids, although some are more memorable than others. I feel a particular sense of accomplishment when I succeed with a child where others have failed. While I have, on rare occasion, had to terminate a business relationship due to problems with the parent, such as payment or scheduling incompatibilities, I have never once, in 30 years, “given up” on a child. Behavior difficulties have been managed and overcome, and special needs have been accommodated. I have had several children that have been expelled from other preschools flourish in the TK family atmosphere.

I attribute this to firm, loving discipline, and the knowledge that every child is different, and what works for one may not work for another. These children never leave my thoughts. I am very lucky to have a husband who will act as a caring, concerned sounding board (he is dedicated to the kids, too), and to have had a mother in the same business that I am in. When I am having a problem with one child throwing temper tantrums, or another having a difficult time learning to count to five, I ponder the problem. I look at it from every point of view including and especially that of the child. I try to discover what motivates the problem.

I generally come up with a solution, or a possibility, and I will try it, monitoring how it works. If it works, great. If not, I start to observe the child again, and ponder other possibilities, and I’ll try a new angle. If I can’t come up with a solution to a problem, I’ll solicit suggestions from colleagues, and hit the books.

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It is against my personal philosophy to ever give up on a child. I believe that

where there is a child, there is Hope.

A person that has only lived a few years of his or  her potential 80 or 90 years is WAY too young to be given up on. Children are learning, loving machines – a product, to a certain extent, of their environment. Maybe, just maybe, if I create an environment of love and learning…..

Well, the sky is the limit!

updated March 12 2016