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Gigi Schweikert

is the author of many books on early childhood education, including the Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals series and Prime Times: A Handbook for Excellence in Infant and Toddler Programs, Second Edition. She also contributes to early childhood periodicals and journals, such as Children and Families, eFamily News, Northwest Baby & Child, Cricket magazine, and Child Care Information Exchange. Gigi hosted a cable television show, Today's Family, directed the United Nations Child Care Center in New York City, developed the Johnson & Johnson System of Family Centers, and has taught in a number of settings. She is a popular keynote speaker and presenter at staff workshops, parent seminars, and conferences. Visit her website: www.gigischweikert.com.




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Gigi Schweikert has a knack for mixing humor and advice throughout her writing, consulting, and trainings. A mother of four with a well-rounded early childhood résumé, she shares an amazing amount of knowledge in her Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals series. Read on to learn more about the series and Gigi’s teaching experience.

Where did the idea for the Winning Ways for Early Childhood Professionals series come from?
The Winning Ways series is a culmination of many of my most popular workshops over the years. After my training sessions, educators often would say, “I wish I had a written copy of what you just said.” So, I did write it down. The first three books are about professionalism, teambuilding, and working with families. The second set is about infants, toddlers and two-year-olds, and preschoolers. And the third set of three is a surprise! Each workbook in the Winning Ways series is easy to read and inexpensive to own. Where else can you get three books for $20 in early childhood? Seriously, though, I think the books have a lot of good information and I really wanted them to be affordable for any teacher.
Your knowledge is highlighted throughout the Winning Ways series. Tell us about your teaching experience—where you started and where you are now.
So, here’s a quick history of my early childhood career:
  • I started a summer camp program in my backyard for neighborhood kids when I was nine years old. I charged fifty cents a day per child. That was a deal!
  • I worked in a child care center during high school—to me, it was better than scooping ice cream.
  • I went to school for pre-med, but always wanted to work with children. I switched to being a pediatric dentist—a dentist for kids—but it was not my thing.
  • I finally got my teaching certification.
  • I worked on a mountain in Colorado where I taught young children to ski and worked at the drop-in program with infants.
  • When the snow melted, I worked in an intergenerational program at a hospital.
  • I was a toddler and preschool teacher at the United Nations Child Care Center in NYC.
  • I made the transition to administration, which was not as fun as being in the classroom. I was the Director at the UN Child Care Center when I left to get married and live happily ever after. It has been twenty years, so the “ever after” part is working and “happily” is, too—at least most of the time.
  • I worked for RCCM, which became CFS, which became BH. Lost a letter with each merger. I was an Assistant Director, a Director, a Project Manager, a Regional Manager, and a Toilet Plunger.
  • My husband and I made a small child care center of our own by having four children in six years. Can you say stretch marks?
  • I started writing from home to save my sanity as a mommy of four and have been writing and consulting ever since.
What do you love about your job?
I absolutely love my job of writing and speaking. In fact, my job is one of my greatest passions and favorite things to do. I work from home when I’m not traveling, and that makes being a mom of four a bit easier. I have had the honor of working with so many people in early childhood education. In the past three weeks alone, I have worked with:
  • A program in New Orleans that was closed for many months after Katrina and just closed again for the most recent hurricane
  • A center in south Texas, five miles from the Mexican border, that deals with drugs and gangs on a daily basis
  • A preschool in a church in suburban Delaware that has been there for twenty years
  • A child care center for a large Fortune 100 company in New Jersey
  • A school in Las Vegas for children six weeks to 2nd grade and has been open 24/7 for ten years—may I just say, “Wow!”
  • And a Head Start program in urban Newark, New Jersey

What did I experience? Their buildings were all different, but their dedication to caring for and educating young children was the same. And the local food was outrageous in every city! One of the best perks of the job!
What is your number one piece of advice—a “Winning Way,” if you will—for early childhood professionals?
Never give up on children or adults. There is so much potential and hope in every person.
With so many experiences in a variety of settings, is there a memorable teaching
moment that sticks out in your mind?
Imagine a brand new, very excited preschool teacher doing a series of activities on bubbles. That was me—hands-on, active learning all the way. It was important to me that each child received a set of the supplies so no one had to wait for a turn.

Here's what I planned. I would give each child a small cup with a straw and pour about an inch of pink dishwashing detergent in each cup. The object of the activity was for the children to blow into the straws to produce bubbles that would quickly cascade over the edge of the cup. Cool, right?

Here's what happened. Instead of blowing into the straws, (you guessed it) the children sucked up the pink dishwashing liquid, and let's just say that the activity didn't go according to plan.