Flexible lesson plans that meet the reality of the early childhood classroom: A FunShine Express success story

Center Name: Sunflower Academy  | Location: Brooklyn, NY 

“I honestly can’t imagine not using FunShine Express. It is so organized and convenient, and that is powerful for an educator. It is just not possible to find the time to run around and buy all the materials, order special items, and make lesson plans a month in advance. FunShine really helps us.”

Myla Tarelkine

THE CHALLENGE

Too many educators are spending time outside of working hours on lesson planning 

How do you ensure that educators are delivering quality learning experiences in the classroom, without taking work home and increasing the risk of burnout? This was a challenge that Myla Tarelkine was constantly facing as a full-time early childhood educator in Brooklyn, New York. Hours were being lost to dollar store visits so that she could collect all the materials for the classroom, while her evenings and weekends were spent catching up on lesson planning. Myla was faced with the constant question of either having to adjust what she taught and reduce the quality of the lessons being offered, or adjust how she taught. She chose to focus on the latter, and  decided it was time to search for a new center that would allow her to work more efficiently without sacrificing the quality of teaching. With these goals in mind, Myla soon found herself as a lead teacher at Sunflower Academy. 

Roughly five years ago, the administration team at Sunflower Academy recognized the need for a change to combat the challenge of lack of time for educators. They did not want their educators to have to sacrifice the quality of the learning experiences they were offering, nor did they want them to sacrifice their well-deserved personal time outside the classroom doors. Instead, they chose to encourage and advocate for their educators by rethinking how they use their time. 

In particular, the lesson planning tools at their disposal were not up to par and feeling frustrated with the amount of time quality program planning was taking, they began seeking alternative options. Sunflower Academy eventually landed on FunShine Express curriculum as the best option to support their educators. 

THE SOLUTION 

Implementing high-quality and ready-to-use lesson plans by FunShine Express 

Using the FunShine Express Fireflies curriculum has made a world of difference for Myla and her time management in the classroom. On a monthly basis, Myla has the curriculum dropped off at the classroom door with everything she needs. These include materials for each child, a teacher guide to walk her through the lessons, books, activity cards, and ideas for how to simplify or enrich the activity based on children’s varying skill levels. Each lesson plan is also directly tied to specific developmental milestones in accordance with their state’s early learning framework, making sure each learning experience has been thoughtfully curated to maximize learning. 

“FunShine makes it very easy. Everything is just right there for you and I can use my own creativity to adjust the activities based on the needs of the students. For the younger kids, I let them use their creativity and imagination with the materials. They can make their own designs and manipulate the project as they see fit. For the older children, they can take that same explorative approach or work together to follow the steps. I think it’s amazing”

Myla Tarelkine

In class, Myla can simply lay out all the materials that have been delivered and flip open her teacher guide to help tackle common challenges for educators, such as: how to encourage conversation during learning activities, how to individualize the learning activity, and how to expand based on the children’s interests. 

Though FunShine provides the lesson plan, Myla does not see this as an obstacle to following the children’s lead in her classroom. 

“If FunShine has provided me with an activity to encourage cognitive development, such as counting, but I see my kids are really interested in dinosaurs that week, I make a counting activity with dinosaurs. FunShine Express makes it easy to offer a high-quality curriculum focused on developmental milestones, while still following the children’s lead. It is amazing and our department of education here in New York definitely approves of the curriculum we are offering.” 

THE RESULT 

Joining a center that prioritizes not only “the what” but also “the how” of implementing a high-quality curriculum has really paid off for Myla and her happiness working as an early childhood educator. Using FunShine has eliminated working overtime, reduced the dollar store runs, and made class time more valuable for her and for each student in her care. With all the materials at her fingertips and the ease of knowing all lesson plans are ready to use and developmentally appropriate, it has created the space for more hands-on and meaningful engagement with the children. 

“I really appreciate both HiMama and FunShine Express. Making a curriculum that works for all children is a challenge, but you have done an amazing job.” 

Myla Tarelkine

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Maddie Hutchison

Maddie is a Registered Early Childhood Educator with a Master's in Early Childhood Studies. Her specialty is in Children's Rights and she is currently a Content Strategist for HiMama!