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Leadership In Childcare: These 6 Words Say It All

Expert Preschool and Childcare Practitioners share What Makes for Stellar Leadership In ECE

What makes for genuine leadership in ECE?

It’s been a bumpy couple of years in the world of early learning. Between staffing shortages, lockdowns, and the everyday ups and downs of childcare, there’s been a lot keeping ECE leaders up at night.


But diamonds are made under pressure. 💎


At LineLeader, we have been both amazed and inspired by the many childcare leaders in our community who have stepped up and embraced new solutions to age-old industry problems — including a skills-first mindset in hiring and teamwork and new ways to connect with children and families.


We wanted to know, what comes next for the ECE leaders of the future.


We reached out to a panel of expert preschool and childcare practitioners to find out what makes for genuine leadership in ECE. The only catch?


They had to tell us in just five words.

lesson planning

"Modeling expectations, always actively listening."

Cindy Terebush is an early childhood consultant at Helping Kids Achieve. She has a Masters in Early Childhood Studies and is Board Certified in Inclusion in Special Education. 

Cindy has spent more than 20 years working in the field of education and her breadth of work is a testament to that experience. She’s the author of Teach the Whole Preschooler: Strategies for Nurturing Developing Minds and co-host of the podcast How Preschool Teachers Do It

With her vast experience teaching and directing preschool programs, Cindy’s five-word story is all about modeling mutual respect:

“I picked these words because leaders need to be whom they want their staff members, the children, and the families to be. 

When we treat teachers and all adults the way we want them to treat the children, we set a tone for the environment. When we are kind, considerate, empathetic, organized, and take the time to listen, we are more likely to see that emerge from others. 

The impact of modeling and of being truly heard doesn't only apply to children. It applies to us all."

The moral of Cindy’s story: Be the leader you want your staff, children, and families to be.

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"Ten wishes from a genie."

Richard Cohen is a keynote speaker, trainer, and consultant. He received his Master’s Degree in Human Development from Pacific Oaks College and is an active member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the International Play Association.

Richard has been an early childhood professional for almost forty years, delivering keynote addresses and sessions at over 400 international, national, regional, state, and local early childhood conferences around the globe.

When we asked Richard for his five-word story on ECE leadership, his answer wasn’t quite what we expected — but the way he explains it reveals just how multifaceted the role of an ECE leader really is. 

“I chose this answer since it is impossible, to sum up, a great ECE leader in just five words! For a truly great leader, I would wish for:

- A deep understanding of child development and the ability to apply it to the children in her care

- Business skills like budget management, marketing, grant writing, and policy making

- Keen knowledge of her local ECE standards of excellence and complicated licensing regulations (Montessori preschool curriculum is a fantastic approach to be aware of)

- Relationship-building skills with her staff, families, children, and the community

- A loving, caring heart

- Discipline, dedication, and time management skills

- Inspirational passion, leadership, and team-building skills

- Humor and silliness; a playful sensibility

- An intuitive ability to cultivate and use all the resources she has

- The ability to care for herself with compassion, after each full day of using the other nine skills"

The moral of Richard’s story: Leadership in childcare calls on all the skills in your toolbox — from intellectual and financial to interpersonal and self-care. And as an early ECE leader, these ten characteristics are pillars of excellence to strive for.

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"Impact students' long-term memories."

Sarah Connell Sanders is an author and educator at Small Teaching K-8. She holds a Masters of Education in School Leadership & Administration and is licensed as an elementary and secondary principal, school librarian, and English teacher. She also appeared in Worcester Business Journal’s “40 Under Forty” list in 2020.

Sarah is a big believer in the power of a well-nurtured long-term memory.

“Early childcare experts should be able to bridge the gap between cognitive theory and a real classroom environment. Effective ECEs know how to develop long-term memory using strategies such as retrieval, interleaving, prediction, self-explanation, synthesis, and growth feedback.”

The moral of Sarah’s story: Expert ECE leaders combine the cognitive with the practical to build lasting learning skills in the minds of young children.

(P.S. Your teachers work hard! Get fresh ideas for celebrating national teacher appreciation week.)

Get the PDF to stay up to date on the latest industry news, trends and best practices for growing and managing your childcare business.

"Patience, Dedication, Creativity, Collaborative, Inclusive."

Kimberly King, a.k.a. The Tough Topics Mom, is a parenting expert with a Master’s of Education and the author of several best-selling books for young children including, I Said No! A Kid-To-Kid Guide to Keeping Your Private Parts Private, Finding Your Fit! A Kid-To-Kid Guide to Fitness, Food, and Feelings, and When Your Parents Divorce: A Kid-to-Kid Guide to Dealing with Divorce

Kimberly spends her time training both adults and children on prevention strategies and sharing her expertise as a consultant, advisor, speaker, and coach. 

Each of Kimberly’s five words to describe ECE leadership comes with its own story:

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1. Patience: Because as early childhood educators and leaders in the field, we all know that young children require a certain level of patience…Also, patience as a teacher or director is needed when dealing with parents. Many parents have fears about sending their children to daycare, preschool, or school. Taking a path that focuses on support and patience makes these transitions smoother.

2. Dedication: Teaching young children is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Many teachers are overwhelmed with high student numbers, and little resources and support. These teachers show up daily and spend countless personal hours and money on their class of little learners.

3. Creativity: This is key to jumping on a kid-generated art project. Or twist a lesson plan to be more hands-on. Reading a book in a different way to keep attention…Teachers think on their feet and the best early childhood teachers are the most creative. They make the classroom setting feel like a magical, fun, safe place.

4. Collaborative: When we collaborate and cooperate, the best teachers are born. Learning from others and working together creates the best outcomes for all. And saves valuable time. Why reinvent the wheel when your next-door teacher has already created the best lesson on “The Hungry Caterpillar”?

5. Inclusive: Including every student and family as part of the classroom community is key to supporting learning for all. This can be accomplished through the books you read, to the cultures you study, and the songs and art you make. Learning about every single member of your class and their family is the best way to develop a thriving community of learners.

It is essential to get to know your students and assess their learning styles and other traits that make them unique and incredible.”

The moral of Kimberly’s story: The strongest ECE leaders support their entire community of students, families, and team members through strong values and actions.

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"Creative nurture with empathetic heart."

Sally Macaluso is a special education preschool teacher and educational blogger at Tenderhearted Teacher. She’s also a toddler mom with a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction: Early Childhood Education and over 10 years of experience working in ECE within the US public school system.

Sally’s parenting and educational blog shares resources and tips about all things preschool with the goal of supporting parents and caregivers with practical strategies. From potty training to reading skills, Sally's got it all covered. And let's be real, who couldn't use a little extra help when it comes to preschoolers?

The moral of Sally’s story: Student engagement in a welcoming space leads to positive outcomes for life.

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"Dynamically prepared, wear many hats."

Christine Hernandez is an early childhood, parenting expert and play advocate at Fresh Starts Registry. She also holds an NYS Teaching Certification in Early Childhood and is a Certified Birth Doula.

Christine offers parents a supportive and inclusive community, both in-person and online through parenting support and workshops in child development, parenting, speech, pregnancy, and more.

She believes the ability to shift and transform to meet the changing needs of young children and families is critical to strong leadership in ECE.

When working with young children, you have to be prepared to wear many hats. You might act as a guide, a nurturer, a boo-boo healer, an interior designer, a parent coach, a community builder, and a professional organizer — all on the same day. 

The ability to change gears to meet the needs of the families you serve is the hallmark of a great early childhood educator.”

The moral of Christine’s story: Be ready to serve your students and families, no matter what comes next.

To always stay prepared - download our daycare parent handbook

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Give your team the tools they need to lead.

Above all, our job as ECE leaders is to help our businesses thrive so that every team member, parent, and child can thrive too.

At LineLeader, we help childcare leaders put the needs of students, families, and staff at the forefront by using technology to save time and free educators to be the best they can be.

With the first-ever end-to-end childcare experience platform, childcare teams get one platform, with one login where they can easily find any information they need on the families in their community.

Explore the next level of ECE leadership with a free personalized demo today.

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Get the PDF to stay up to date on the latest industry news, trends and best practices for growing and managing your childcare business.

Resources to help you run your childcare business.

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1. Get an in-depth introduction to the Montessori preschool curriculum.


2. Learn how to celebrate national teacher appreciation week.

3. Discover how to built a high-quality daycare parent handbook (with a free template)!

LineLeader Video Resources

Introducing LineLeader, the only unified childcare platform that delivers full-featured customer relationship management (CRM) software, family engagement app, and childcare management software (CMS)—together in one solution.


Check out our helpful video resources below! 👇