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10 Tips for Breaking into the Childcare Field

December 31, 2013

blocksChanging careers can be difficult, especially if it involves a completely new industry. Childcare is a path popular among those searching for second careers. Although it may seem overwhelming at first when considering the significant task of managing the care and well-being of someone’s child, it doesn’t have to be a difficult transition. Here are 10 tips to help ease newcomers into the childcare field:

1. Read Childcare Books: Books are able to provide you with guidelines, suggestions and resources of how to interact with children of all ages and backgrounds. The more you read, the better prepared you can be to adapt to the unique set of abilities and challenges that each child brings to the table.

2. Volunteer: Taking advantage of volunteer opportunities involving children can give you an example of what you could be facing on a daily basis in the field of childcare. The best part about volunteering is that you gain hands-on experience, learn tried-and-true techniques from professionals, and can stop at any time if you find it too difficult to manage.

3. Offer to Babysit: Like volunteering, babysitting for a co-worker or neighbor can offer insight into what spending extended periods of time with children is like. There is no substitution for real-life experiences caring for children.

4. Research Trends: Conducting regular research of childcare trends on the Internet will ensure that you stay current on the latest studies, theories and techniques about childcare and childhood development. Consider using a notification service such as Google Alerts to receive emails with the latest relevant Google results for your desired subject matter. Subscribing to childcare RSS feeds and blogs could also be greatly beneficial.

5. Take a Part-Time Job: Unless you are 100% positive that working with children is what you want to do, take a part-time or weekend childcare job first to test the waters.

6. CPR and First Aid: Knowledge of CPR and first aid procedures is not only an important skill to have, it is often required of people who work with children. It also looks good on a resume for a wide range of career paths.

7. Take Classes: Check in your community for free or low-cost childcare classes or workshops that teach skills for dealing with children. Depending on the area where you live, these classes could involve anything from early education theories to parenting techniques.

8. Research the Target Age Group: Caring for a three-year-old is much different than caring for a pre-teen. Before deciding to work with a specific age group, it is important to understand the social, cognitive, emotional and educational development of every age range. Do your homework to better understand the needs and abilities of the age range that you wish to care for.

9. Kiddie Trends: While you certainly want to keep a finger on the pulse of emerging childcare and parenting trends, you may also want to pay attention to the latest trends popular among children themselves. Kids will develop a newfound respect for someone who can hold a conversation with them over the latest games and television shows.

10. Meditation Techniques: Knowing and applying effective meditation techniques are useful to keep yourself centered when chaos surrounds you. Childcare can be a fun and rewarding experience, but like any job, it can take its toll on your patience some days.

Working as a childcare provider requires an enormous degree of patience and empathy. However, the rewards are great when you are able to connect with a child and become a positive role model in his or her life. Whether you want to be a private nanny or a preschool teacher, you can be poised to help shape the future of the world by nurturing and encouraging young minds.

Ken Myers holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

Why I Volunteer: Jennifer’s Story

December 26, 2013

Jennifer Bingham (2)I love being a volunteer at Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont because it helps me make connections.

I started out at Goodwill as a job seeker. I was new to Charlotte and needed to find employment and a place to live.  I am also a veteran and I found a program at Goodwill that offered job seeking services for veterans and their family members. Through this program, I was able to attend a job training class, meet other veterans and connect with housing resources for homeless veterans.  I met people with the same circumstances as myself and we were able to exchange information to get where we needed to go. From that point forward, I was able to help myself and wanted to do the same for others.

My first volunteer experience at Goodwill came while attending the Hospitality and Tourism training class.  Our class was asked to volunteer for Goodwill’s annual Cornerstone event at the Westin in Charlotte.  We were responsible for greeting the guests as they arrived for the event. Afterwards, we were free to enjoy the luncheon and hear other success stories from Goodwill participants.  I loved the event and I look forward to attending it every year.

After that, I made it official and became involved with the Champions for Good volunteer program so I could offer my assistance to Goodwill on a regular basis. I have received numerous benefits while volunteering at Goodwill.  Volunteering exposed me to potential employers, helped me increase job skills and enabled me to assist others. Sharing, learning and being inspired are experiences I have gained from being a Goodwill volunteer. I am Goodwill.

Jennifer Bingham is volunteer with Operation Independence at Goodwill. To learn more about available volunteer opportunities at Goodwill, click here or contact Manager of Community Engagement Kilby Watson at kilby.watson@goodwillsp.org.

DIY Christmas Decor

December 19, 2013

The holiday season is upon us!  It can be tempting to go out and purchase new Christmas decorations each year, but why spend extra cash when you can make your own decorations with items found at Goodwill stores?  Get crafty this holiday season and create one of these ornaments or this great book Christmas tree!

What is your favorite Christmas craft?

AllisonPlatteAllison Platte is a Charlotte, NC blogger & internet marketing specialist that writes a lifestyle and fashion blog, In the Queen City.

How to Mix Secondhand Finds with New Items

December 17, 2013

As more daring interior designers have always known, adding vintage furniture, artwork or striking found objects to a room is an easy way to add character.  But if you’re not careful, it’s also a potential recipe for turning a room into a confused hodgepodge of modes. Here are some rules of thumb to mastering the subtle art of secondhand elegance.

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Begin with a Neutral Canvas

When set against the backdrop of an imposing color, an assortment of vintage pieces might make the room look scattered. White or neutral-colored walls, on the other hand, accommodate a high degree of heterogeneity by giving individual elements more breathing room. To stir in a little more warmth, beige, grey, taupe or black backdrops will serve a similar function.

Work Within Unified Themes and Color Palettes

In the same way that neutral walls curb the busyness of a room, composing the layout of a room according to common visual elements cuts down the carnivalesque ambience. This is particularly important when using pieces that have an antique appearance to begin with (and doubly so if they happen to be vintage pop culture items). When set against similar color schemes and patterns, the used items take on a consciously curated style rather than haphazardly kitschy.

Choose Wisely

As a rule, plan on contemporary furniture for large pieces and use retro items for accessory items or accent furniture. However, if you come across a larger secondhand piece of furniture that you can’t pass up, applying a little TLC to your find will ensure that it doesn’t stick out for the wrong reasons. Often all it takes is some reupholstering or a deep clean to have an old treasure looking new again. But first, consider the amount of time and energy you have to dedicate to giving a secondhand item a makeover before you lug it home.

Highlight a Signature Item

One of the greatest things about thrifting is the thrill of finding rare, one-of-a-kind items. When you score that truly oddball mid-century modern chair or Op Art coffee table, don’t let it recede into the background. Arrange the furniture and items in your room around it as a centerpiece to showcase its uniqueness.

Use New Fabrics with Old Furniture

Even when a piece of furniture has been handled with care over the years, upholstery tends to fray, so accenting a vintage chair with a brand new blanket or modern throw pillow will breathe some life back into it. Since the raison d’etre for the new fabric is to provide sharp and unpilled texture, it need not be an attraction on its own: a simple throw from Target will do the trick.

An underlying goal of mixing new and secondhand items should be to create an overall vision of simplicity while livening things up with juxtapositions on a smaller scale. Using a vintage, ornate wood end table as a television stand is a good example. Finally, while it’s good to begin any schematic with a master plan, let a room evolve over time.  Imposing a single concept all at once can result in a forced, almost sterile appearance—and as in much of life, the best things often come to us out of the blue. So always be ready for your next unexpected find!

Uma Campbell is a freelance writer from Southern California. She loves mixing secondhand treasures with newly bought items in her home. To view more of her writing, please visit the Luxe Water Walls blog.

Join this effort to help local workers find jobs

December 13, 2013

MichaelElderFor the jobless, the holiday season can be particularly difficult, especially since diminished unemployment benefits do not pay enough to cover even basic expenses. As the holidays approach, I encourage all of us to think creatively about ways that our community can work together to reduce barriers to employment that challenge thousands of our citizens in their quest to provide for their families.

While the recession has affected our nation’s entire workforce, it has devastated the ability of low-skilled job seekers and entry-level workers to find family-sustaining employment. Last year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s workforce development agencies—under record-breaking demand for services and diminished funding—banded together to form a unified task force to explore opportunities for strengthening community services for adult job seekers. By working together for the past 20 months, we are gaining a more thorough understanding of the complex challenges facing low-skilled individuals and making strides to develop more effective job training services that will benefit local workers and employers.

The workforce development sector has shifted gears to deepen our collective impact on the employment outcomes of the people we serve. For example, we are in the process of developing a standardized “soft skills” training curriculum for clients, marking the first time that our agencies have reached a consensus on best practices in pre-employment training. But much work remains to keep building momentum and break the joblessness cycle. Here at Goodwill, we see hundreds of individuals each month who have been stuck at the back of the jobs line for years because they’re perceived as “damaged goods” by employers. We prepare them with the proper skills to find and keep a job so that they can support themselves and their family. However, to make the transition from low-wage worker to living-wage worker, this group needs support from individuals and employers.

I invite people to join the movement to create local solutions to employment barriers. Become a mentor to a youth without career goals. Volunteer as a mock interviewer at one of Goodwill’s job training classes.  Hire a person who has been out of work for six months or longer. They may have a weaker resume, but their motivation to work is strong. When a person is able to contribute economically, that not only benefits the individual and their family, it goes a long way in building stronger communities.

Michael Elder is president and CEO of Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont. This letter originally appeared in The Charlotte Observer on November 15, 2013.

DIY Christmas Gifts

December 10, 2013

You don’t have to go to the mall this Christmas to give your loved ones a gift they will treasure for a lifetime!  Why not make them one of these great gifts with materials found at your local Goodwill?  Not only are DIY gifts affordable, they are more personal that other gifts.  Give a gift that will remain valuable in your loved one’s eyes.

Have you ever received a homemade Christmas gift?

AllisonPlatteAllison Platte is a Charlotte, NC blogger & internet marketing specialist that writes a lifestyle and fashion blog, In the Queen City.

Success Story: Lavette

December 6, 2013

IMG_0158Lavette Johnson had 20 years of work experience as a successful business woman with positions in customer service and sales. But when her younger sister was diagnosed with cancer, Lavette left her job in Virginia to move back to Charlotte to be closer to her family.

Despite her robust work history, Lavette struggled to find another position that matched her skill set and education. “I learned the term for my situation was ‘dislocated worker,’” she said. “But I decided that I would maintain a positive response to change throughout the job seeking process.” When a family friend who was also looking for a job picked up a flyer about Goodwill’s Occupational Skills Training program, it was Lavette who called the number first to enroll in the Banking & Customer Service class.

Lavette describes the benefits of her Goodwill experience as two-fold. First, there was the emotional support given by classmates and instructors. “The classroom setting exposes you to a lot of different people, yet we all ended up forming strong relationships and helping each other get through each step of the process.” Secondly, Goodwill allowed Lavette to sharpen skills that would make her stand out to potential employers. “While I had previous computer training, Goodwill gave me more in-depth skills that helped boost my confidence,” Lavette said. “I became stronger in Power Point, spreadsheets and public speaking, to name a few.”

Lavette says Goodwill helped her reevaluate her career goals and gave her new direction. She is currently seeking a position in banking or customer service and volunteer opportunities where she can draw upon her strengths of working with people.  In the long-term, Lavette would like to be a trainer in the banking industry so she can help others gain the skills and opportunities that she gained at Goodwill. “I take all the good from where I’ve been and I put that energy into where I’m going,” she says.

Elizabeth Isenhour

Elizabeth Isenhour

How do you stay focused during a job search?

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