3MT Finalist Laura Woodman

Laura Woodman

Human Ecology, College of Natural + Applied Sciences

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Creating the Village: Increasing Understanding and Supports for Alberta's Day Home Educators

Introduce yourself...

I am a researcher, a mother, and an advocate for high quality early learning and childcare. When I am not reading studies or writing about my own, you can find me hiking, gardening, playing with my children, or folded into a yoga pose!

What are you researching and what do you hope comes out of your research?

The focus of my research is supporting quality and longevity in Alberta's family day home educators. My hope is that the results of this research will be used to increase understanding and support for this unique population. This will benefit not only the educators and their main supports, day home agencies and consultants, but also in a very powerful way children and families as well.

How did presenting a Three Minute Thesis (3MT) help explain your research to the public?

I found that creating this 3MT helped hone my ability to clearly and concisely articulate what I am researching, and why. I believe that drawing attention to the new federal-provincial childcare agreement, and highlighting the point that most of the new spaces are aimed at day homes, identifies how timely my work is. Continuing the current childcare system, where day homes are frequently misunderstood and left out, is very concerning. My hope is that this 3MT will increase public awareness and shed light on this important issue.

What inspires you to do research?

My fire and passion! I truly loved my day home, and sometimes it was so hard. It was frustrating because supports available often did not meet my needs, and I struggled to articulate why certain aspects of my work were so challenging. I am highly motivated to increase my community's ability to support day home educators in their ability to enjoy their work, feel satisfied and content, and ultimately be more supported in offering quality and longevity in early learning and childcare. The heart of my passion is guiding optimal life paths along developmental trajectories that start in childhood, and continue across the lifespan.

What are three keywords important to your 3MT?

Educators, research, and thriving!

How does your research impact local, provincial, or global communities at large?

While at first the focus of my research was Alberta-specific, I quickly came to realize how little is known is about day homes in general, and day homes in Canada specifically. As so much is yet to be discovered, this research can be used to benefit day home educators wherever they may be, in Alberta, Canada, the United States, or beyond. Increasing awareness of day home educator abilities and needs can help build a stronger system that is more stable, sustainable, and targeted to meet the needs of educators and children in the unique environment of family day homes.

If you had to dedicate your research to anyone from the past, present, or future—who would it be and why?

This research would be dedicated to day home educators and children everywhere. I deeply value the important work being offered in day homes, and the benefits to children are immense. It is very difficult to continually fight for what you and the children need, and to feel so alone - these are daily realities of day home educators. I see their work, I see their value, and I see their struggle - I want to raise their voices louder so their needs can be better understood and met, in order for them to thrive!

3MT Image Description - A village created with natural wooden blocks and small colorful wooden people

Watch Laura's Three Minute Thesis