BrightStars Program Focus: Positive Start in North Smithfield
Positive Start in North Smithfield is a family child care program first rated by BrightStars in 2009 and has continued to strive for quality improvement and to maintain their star rating. In October 2016, Positive Start renewed their participation on the new BrightStars standards and achieved an overall rating of 4 stars. Connie Lepine, the family child care provider, has worked incredibly hard to increase the program’s overall Environment Rating Scale (ERS) score. Connie has worked collaboratively with BrightStars throughout this process and has partnered with BrightStars by providing her program as a site for practice observations for BrightStars staff trainings.
"At the time BrightStars came along, I was ready to increase my professionalism," says Connie Lepine. "BrightStars gave me the confidence in knowing that I am a professional and I do a great job for the children and families in my care. I wanted to get feedback and support for building upon the quality of my program that I had in place and improve best practices to children to provide the highest care possible." Her business motto? “Positive Start...Childcare for a ‘Positive Beginning’!"
Positive Start promotes children’s ability to develop their own imaginations, to select the types of activities that match with their interests, and to learn to interact with others. Children learn through play and benefit from a structured yet flexible schedule. "At Positive Start, we get to know our children and teach with them in mind. Each child is different and has his/her own background of knowledge. We keep this in mind when planning activities and experiences each day promoting self-confidence, self-esteem and school readiness skills. One size does not fit all and we may need to modify or adjust activities to meet the individual needs and interests”, says Connie.
Positive Start focuses on a variety of positive character skills each month, including honesty, respect, gentleness, cooperation, patience, kindness, empathy and responsibility. Although children discuss, model and demonstrate many of those skills every day, they concentrate on particular skills related to the curriculum each month. Connie reports, "This year we implemented ‘mindfulness' at Morning Meeting developing self-awareness and compassion.” The Bucket Filling concept is also incorporated into the program. Connie explains, “Everyone carries an invisible bucket that holds our good thoughts and feelings. When our buckets are full, we are happy and when our buckets are empty, we feel sad. Children quickly understand that they can fill imaginary buckets when they do and say things that are kind, considerate, caring and respectful. By doing this, they are filling their own bucket at the same time”.
"Participating in BrightStars has helped me to realize that I am a professional utilizing 'best practices.' It has also kept me motivated to continue to offer quality care to not only the children, but families as well. Connie keeps motivated by reading professional newsletters, updates, workshops and taking professional development workshops through the Center for Early Learning Professionals and Family Childcare Homes of RI.
We at BrightStars look forward to Positive Starts’ continued commitment to serving Rhode Island’s children!