By: Michael Mehl-Executive Director-Sunshine Day Camp
Years ago, as a director at Stevenson Ranch, I had about 190 Sunshine children attending each day. The new school year was about to begin, and we were anxiously waiting that first day. Of course, as with any new school year, we were thrown a curveball. The school had decided to open a “North Campus” to accommodate the rising population. Some of our Sunshine children were sent to that location, which required us to pick up, via van. The combination of new children attending, new room assignments, and now transportation, equaled a very stressful day. On that first day, I went up to North Campus to ensure all the children were accounted for. This included a new child that would be starting Sunshine that day. We had never met this child, or had even seen this child. All we knew was his grade, 1st, his name Christian, and that he was a boy. I was determined to make sure Christian made it to Sunshine safe and sound!
I got to the North Campus early that day. As soon as the school bell rang, I began looking for first graders by the name of Christian. Finally I spotted what was sure to be him! He looked confused, lost, and a bit scared. Confidently I approached the boy and asked, “Are you Christian?” He seemed flustered by the question, and quickly blurted out, “No! I’m Jewish! He then stomped off before I could explain.
I did find Christian that day, and he did make it to Sunshine! However, I also “picked up” a very important reminder about communicating with children (and with people for that matter). Children need not just words; they need to understand our words. This is done through a combination of different ways. Recently we reviewed this concept with our staff. In an effort to understand the children better, we are focusing more on these three items:
- It is not what you say, it is how they hear it
- It is not what you see, it is how they see it
- It is not how you feel, it is how they do
Inevitably we will have miscommunication along the way, but our resolve to be better at how we communicate will never change. This includes not just better communication with the children but also with you, our wonderful Sunshine parents. If there ever is a miscommunication, either with your child and staff or with you and staff, please do not hesitate to see your director. In addition to your director, I too am available and happy to meet if needed.
As always, thank you for the opportunity to serve your family! We are so grateful you have chosen Sunshine as your childcare!