By Tina Snell, Staff Writer
“Jan Naber is an angel sent to her families; she has a positive impact on her day care children,” were comments from parents who give their children over to Naber for care during the work week.
Naber, Little Falls, was recently named the Child Care Provider of the Year in Morrison County. She has worked with children her entire life, beginning with her younger siblings. She grew up as the fourth child in a family of 11 children.
When Naber got a bit older, she babysat to make extra money. Then in high school, she worked at a child care center in her home town of Chippewa Falls, Wis.
In 1991, Naber started her licensed family child care career.
“I have always felt family child care was the best choice because parents and children can feel more at ease in the smaller, family-style atmosphere,” Naber said. “I stayed in the business until 2000, when I went back to college (looking for a new direction) and became a legal secretary. I worked in a law firm in St. Cloud for three years, but discovered it just wasn’t for me. I discovered I preferred working with little people.”
Naber went back to working with children, opening up another child care business in her home in 2006.
Twelve children are dropped off each week, some part-time, so not all are at her home at the same time.
“I love every minute of my day,” she said. “The children’s individual needs and personalities are great. The best part is watching them grow up.”
One thing Naber is loving is the opportunity to do child care for the children of those she took care of when she started in 1991.
Naber said it’s hard to pin down one item that makes her job so special. There are so many reasons to do what she does.
Her day begins at around 5:30 a.m. when her first child steps through the door. When all the children have arrived, they have breakfast, then do their sharing and circle time where they read or have free and imaginary play.
Then Naber brings out 123 Learning, a curriculum for young children. They do a variety of worksheets with numbers and letters, learn to follow directions and practice their colors and shapes. They may sing, recite poems and create finger plays.
“I’m getting the children ready for kindergarten,” she said.
Other activities in the Naber house include learning sign language, dancing and singing and crafts. There are also celebrations during the various holidays and for each child’s birthday.
In the summer, the kids are outdoors a lot, and when it’s really hot, Naber has a snake sprinkler that she said the children love.
The parents of the children Naber cares for said she is an outstanding provider. They said she guides the kids to become confident, responsible and independent and that she shows patience and love while going the extra mile to build self-esteem.
Naber is married to Jerry and they have two adult children, Jess and Seth; a daughter-in-law, Kari; two grandsons, Carter and Isaac and a chocolate Labrador named Melee.
Other nominees for the Morrison County Provider of the Year for 2012, were Karen Anez, Aeron Baum, Mona Cody, JoAnn Kroll, Marci Sobieck and Heather Tabatt.