Heather Bignall owns and operates First Four Academy Day Care and Preschool which is located in Hilton Road, Maxwell, Christ Church.
The devoted childcare provider who is a member of the Barbados Association of Private Childcare Operators and whose business is registered with the Child Care Board told Barbados TODAY that she does not have a challenge with catering to children from six weeks to four years old.
“If you have a child from six weeks and it grows up with you to four years, automatically that is your child. You know all of the habits, the bad, the good, how strong they are or how weak they could be. Whatever foundation you build in them, you see it coming back out. Sometimes they take on the persona of you and mimic you; sometimes so that makes my heart rejoice. You have a goal to raise the nation’s children,” she said.
Bignall admitted that at first, she found it challenging to release the children she cared for to primary school; she would have looked after them from the tender age of six to the age of four.
“When I first started and I did my first graduation, I had to come to reality and say, ‘Heather, it is a job and you will see the children.’ Of the four graduations I have done before, one or two of the children stay with me but all of them come back at some time. It is not that we would do it and leave it, we have a relationship right through,” she said.
Bignall who has operated her Maxwell, Christ Church business since 2014 said one of the highlights of her career is when parents with misbehaving children tell them that ‘auntie Heather’ will be called and this gets them to behave.
According to Bignall, one of the most challenging things about being a proprietor of a daycare and preschool was that it is a labour of love which is not always financially sound. “The challenge is when we have a low number and we have all of the bills piled up. When we have low numbers, we still have to meet the requirements of paying salaries or sending home people from work because we do not have children,” she said.
The preschool owner stressed she would like persons who come into the childcare business to do it for their love of children and not just to receive a paycheque.
“I would like that ‘Aunties’ come into the business and love the children for who they are even though everyone is not like me to be contented with [little]… everyone wants big money and they want it fast. Coming into childcare is not a lot of money. You get a salary but really and truly, when you look around, you get minimum wage. I would like that the workers’ salary be more than what they get instead of minimum wages. It is a lot of hard work that you cannot put a salary to, because you are mummy, daddy, lawyer, doctor, etc.,” she said.
Despite this, Bignall told Barbados TODAY that she knew she wanted to take care of the nation’s children from an early age.
“I remember one time I went into the big pen and I was counting with the benches. I never knew it would materialize like this but yes, I wanted to work with children,” she said.
First Four Academy Daycare and Preschool will host its annual graduation ceremony on Sunday, August 18 at 4 p.m. (LG)