United 4 Children supports child care program to improve challenging behaviors 

Earlier this year The Spirited Child Early Learning Center, a child care program in Kennett, Missouri, grew quickly – increasing from 20 students to 40. This rapid growth brought with it challenges. Teachers struggled to manage some of the children’s behavior – including children throwing items during mealtime. The program’s owner and director, Krista Beaird, said the increase in students changed the classroom dynamic. 

“We had a big influx of difficult behavior all at once. Classroom management became our priority at that time,” Krista shared. 

She contacted United 4 Children Inclusion Specialist Christy Pogue. With United 4 Children’s support, the child care program implemented a visual schedule during morning circle time and a calm-down area inside the classroom. They also changed mealtimes to a family-style approach, which helped decrease disruptive behavior. 

“We are all so relieved with how much better things are,” Krista said. “She’s (Christy) really become a good friend and we always reach out to her for advice. We’re very grateful that we have a resource like that.”  

To further promote a safe and inclusive environment, the child care program and United 4 Children introduced a feelings poster during story time. They encouraged students to share how they were feeling, utilized feeling dolls, and shared social and emotional storybooks to help children identify and manage their emotions. The program’s teachers have noticed a significant improvement in the children’s behavior, especially during lunchtime. The program has scheduled regular training opportunities for their staff with United 4 Children to continue promoting a safe and inclusive environment for all children. 

“Partnering with United 4 Children has helped us use our resources, our conscience discipline, and social-emotional materials the best way we can. We’ve been able to implement new strategies in our classrooms and have seen a huge difference in behavior and overall management of the classroom,” Krista said. “I feel now we can offer more to families.” 

Krista studied child development at the University of Missouri-Columbia. While there, she dreamed up the child care program she hoped to open one day. After graduating, she decided to bring her vision to her hometown. 

“We have a child care dessert here, so the need was huge. We have a high-poverty area here and I wanted to make a difference,” Krista said. 

 Krista started the program as an in-home child care setting. After receiving child care startup grant funding from the Missouri Department of Secondary and Elementary Education, Krista expanded her program to a center, making room to serve more children.



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