Educational Playtime Too

by Terry Watson | May 6th, 2011
Tanika Harris

Tanika Harris (Photo by Howard Gaither)

Tanika Harris has always felt there was something fundamentally lacking in the traditional school of methodology. Perhaps too much attention and focus is placed merely on the numbers such as district statistics and standardized requirements. Conceivably, there are too few opportunities for teachers and administrators to think outside the box and be creative; to see the individual child rather than the lump sum and strategically meet the need or feed the gift.

So what validates Harris’ opinion? What makes her such an expert? She has a bachelor’s degree in child development with a focus in early childhood education and she has a North Carolina kindergarten certification. In addition, she has spent time working in the trenches as a pre-K teacher for Guilford County Schools and has evaluated and analyzed her own personal educational experiences. Most importantly, she believes more should be done at an early age to enhance a child’s complete growth and development. These beliefs combined to help her come to the decision to open her own child care facility.

Six years ago Harris opened the doors to her very first center, Educational Playtime Too. The childcare facility provides a loving, nurturing environment for infants six weeks old to age 12. Educational Playtime Too offers affordable full-time, part-time, drop-in, before and after school, summer camp, seasonal and holiday childcare. One-on-one tutorial services are also offered, but Harris is most proud of her facility’s ability to offer more individualized care for children. She encourages her staff to go the extra mile and do far more than the minimum requirement for the students. More importantly, she endeavors to do more for the children without limitations.

The busy mother of two is experiencing success beyond what she originally imagined.

The response she is getting from the public is overwhelming. In fact, Educational Playtime Too is so popular that Harris and her husband have expanded their business four times. The company’s growth is indicative of the community’s approval. If truth be told, at least 98 percent of the children enrolled are through referrals. That fact is music to Harris’ ears. It is one thing to be applauded by your peers but to be applauded by the people you serve is a real tribute. “It has always been a plan for me to have my own child care facility,” says Harris. “Once we opened the first location it quickly grew into a second and then a third. I have to give thanks to God for providing the vision and the strength to be able to handle all the obstacles that have come our way. I cannot say that I have failed but I have been challenged. The successes have been great but I remain grounded through it all.”

There have been obstacles but Harris is determined to operate efficiently and effectively. It is vitally important for her students, especially for first-year students, to receive top notch care as well as receive educational instruction that will place them ahead of their class. When she has a problem within her staff it becomes her priority to access the problem and coordinate a plan of action. She says one of the biggest challenges is being able to trust that people have her best interest and goals in mind. She prays daily that the individuals she surrounds herself with, including staff, are not out to ruin her reputation but rather are supportive. “One of the most difficult things to do,” she says, “is to be strong enough to let go of those who are not on the same page as you.”

Accordingly, Harris is very hands on when it comes to the business. Her typical day is extremely busy. Actively involved in all the day–to-day operations, she is not just an owner; she is a director and teacher. Her days are long and hectic but she loves every minute. It’s the smiles she sees on the children’s faces when they learn something new that gets her through the day. She relishes in the joy of knowing she and her staff have influenced an individual; knowing they played a part in the development of a future doctor, lawyer or teacher or simply just the future generation.

Grateful for the opportunity to do something she loves on a daily basis, Harris is looking toward the future. No doubt the future is wide open for Harris. She has dug her heels in and is certainly leaving her mark. Her determination to set the bar high will solidify her bright future. The public has already given her the stamp of approval. Whatever childcare or educational pursuits Harris goes after will indeed set the standard.

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