Parents everywhere struggle with balancing multiple demands while giving their kids the experiences that will nurture their success in school and as adults. Bridgette Moss, Director of Healthy Toddlers Care, brought her family together to create a support system that any parent would be delighted to join. “Life is easier when you’re a part of the Healthy Toddlers Care network,” Moss says with a smile. “I studied many theories of education when I decided to offer childcare in my home. Extensive research shows that children benefit from the attention they receive in their family. Statistically, children who are involved with positive, nurturing adult shave a much higher likelihood of emotional and psychological stability as they mature. Plus, children have better opportunities when they are connected to successful, caring adults. These are some of the reasons I chose to build my childcare programs on a foundation that’s provided by my own family. I heartily agree with Hillary Clinton’s vision that "It takes a village to raise a child."
On a sunny morning, Mrs. Bridgette (as she’s known to her students) watches families drive up to her home to drop off their children. A woman carefully removes her baby from an infant seat and heads to the side door, the official entrance to Healthy Toddlers Care. Mrs. Bridgette’s mother, “Granny,” meets them at the door. The child’s eyes open wide and she smiles as she’s passed into Granny’s welcoming arms. “Granny’s so great at helping the infants’ transition to childcare,” Moss observes. She loves holding and walking them. And as the parents are departing, it’s great for them to see their child is smiling and happy.” Granny approaches us, rocking and cooing to the infant in her arms. “This is my mother,” Moss introduces us. “She was able to stay at home to care for my brother and me. Having my mother at home made a big difference to our upbringing. My father was also exceptionally involved in our daily activities. I know many families can’t have a parent at home, so we strive to be the next best thing.
In the blink of an eye, a young boy charges into the house calling “Papa!”Granny approaches the excited child. “Where’s Papa?” he asks. “I want to see if the tomatoes came,” he adds, unable to stand still. We all head to the back yard, where “Papa” is indeed looking over some plants. The young boy rushes to check some bushy green vines, examining them intently. “Are there tomatoes?” he asks Papa.”Look carefully,” says Papa with a laugh. “It’s still going to take a while, but yes, there are some tiny baby tomatoes peeking out!” Papa watches the boy for a moment, then turns to greet us, “Hello, I’m Mrs. Bridgette’s father, Jerry Moss Sr.”
“My dad is a retired engineer,” Moss reveals as we walk back into the house. “He still does some consulting, but he makes sure he has enough free time to visit Healthy Toddlers Care on a regular basis. As you can see, he enjoys gardening with the kids. He wants to see the value and art of home gardening passed onto the young generation.
We return to the front room, which looks out on the street. Healthy Toddlers Care is housed in a large ranch-style residence, nestled in a shady canyon. “My son isn’t here right now, but he’s also a frequent volunteer. As a college student, majoring in communication, he’s a great role model for the kids. He loves cooking and often helps prepare lunch for everyone. He also provides supervision in the backyard play area. He’s been with me from the start, and now when he conducts lessons, I listen in and it’s as if I was doing it myself, with the spin of a younger generation.”
Moss points to a colorful schedule noting the regular times for dance, yoga, and fitness.“The other key members of our team are our interns. Each intern is pursuing a major in Family and Child Development from SDSU’s College of Education. The children love their zest and enthusiasm. Each semester we have at least six interns come in every week. In addition to our regular learning modules, they’ve brought a variety of programs to our school, for instance, the fitness programs on the schedule and classes such as Spanish and American Sign Language. We’ve just put our intern team together for the summer of 2015, and the kids are going to have a sensational summer!”
Healthy Toddlers Care is more than a childcare success; it’s also business success. Looking around the beautifully organized classrooms, it’s easy to see Moss excels at management. She says her BA in English and nearly fifteen years in marketing, design and client training all contribute to her business success. Asked if there’s ever tension working side-by-side with her parents, Moss laughs.“No, we love what we’re doing and we love each other.
I think that’s what everyone can see. You know, I’ve got quite a workload — I do the primary curriculum lessons every day, and provide one-on-one reinforcement lessons, for example, helping them read or working on penmanship. And I am regularly checking that our kids are on track, designing activities for each student’s individual achievement plan. But this is a great academic and business model. Our focus on family gives us a rare opportunity to meet every child’s needs on multiple levels. Kids learn in different ways and interacting with different adults allows each child to grow according to their unique learning style.”
Mrs. Bridgette continues, “It’s an exciting time in education. From increasingly rigorous academic standards and preparing youth for a digitally and globally connected world, to the new understanding of emotional intelligence, kids have more to absorb and master than any other generation. I weave traditional values along with these contemporary requirements into our lessons. But ultimately, I come back to the strength of our family network. My parents and I are working to build lifelong relationships with these kids. We want them to have the best start possible. I love that we’re blending the latest developments in pedagogy with the tradition of strong family bonds. I’m confident this offers the best of all futures.”
Bridgette Moss is the owner and director of Healthy Toddlers Care, located in the City of San Diego near San Diego State University. A licensed child care provider, Moss offers a loving, secure home environment coupled with a curriculum developed to help every child thrive.