Close your eyes. Imagine taking care of a baby or toddler all day, every day. Alone. Imagine the feeling that you are doing everything wrong, that you aren’t enough for your child, that you have no time to breathe. Imagine the isolation you feel. Now imagine a person coming to your house every week to point out all the things you’re doing well. Imagine a person sitting down in your living room, or wherever you call home at the moment and bringing the energy of learning and collaboration that is meant to serve both you and your child.
Michelle Robertson was practically born to be an in-home educator. She is energetic, compassionate and has a unique background that includes eight years in Chile where she stumbled into a situation in which she took on an in-home education type role with a family of six children. For the most part, her relationship to the family became mutually beneficial in which she gave and received resources, time and love to a local family. Although her role at Verner has more built-in structure and boundaries, at a gut level, love is still the driving force. While each educator brings their unique style and gift to the table, Michelle says of Verner’s nine in-home educators as a whole, including director Julie Jones, “Our team is joined by our heart for the families and making this world a better place.”
Along with the other in-home educators, she visits her families once a week for an hour and a half and builds a relationship with the child and their family. She not only brings the classroom to her children with an individualized, developmentally meaningful range of activities, but she also brings invaluable support and guidance to the parents or caregiver. The in-home educators model activities and offer direct feedback but always with a sense that the educator and the parents are partnering to provide the child with the best learning environment possible. The activities the in-home educators do with children are designed to use what families have readily available at home in order to transform the child’s space into a vibrant place of learning.
Although the home-based program is effective in meeting the unique needs of the families, sometimes families resist home visits. Michelle said that sometimes parents or caregivers feel so overwhelmed with whatever situation they find themselves in, that they resist their weekly visits. When asked how she handles a caregiver’s resistance, Michelle responds simply with, “Love. Love is the bridge. That’s it. I love the children and that’s how I am able to gain the trust of the parents.” They learn quickly that she isn’t there to judge but rather to partner with the caregivers, play, share concerns, find strategies, and to facilitate connections with other families in the home-based program through Play and Learn Socials offered twice monthly.
* Check out our Social Media platforms to see videos and stories of how Verner is continuing to care for, educate and love families from afar! And stay tuned for more in-depth stories on our blog about our Verner Family, both within the context of this current crisis and in general! LOVE IS THE BRIDGE!