HAMILTON – Even though Sheila Sanders doesn’t take her job lightly, she says it’s one of the best jobs in the world. Running Lil’ Blessings Child Care and Learning Center has given her the chance to pass her days with her children and now her grandchildren. So many younger people in the community even call her their second mother.
“The kids I kept in the baby room are bringing their kids now so it’s a joy and a pleasure to see it come full circle. Daycare is a challenging job, but you see milestones they go through and it’s worth it,” Sanders said.She started in 1987 working for her big inspiration, Jo Dahlem, while it was called Hamilton Daycare. After working there on and off, Sanders purchased it from Alisha Dahlem in 2003.
Lil’ Blessings serves children six weeks old to 12 years old and offers an afterschool program, full-time care, half-day care and provides for drop-ins. Lil’ Blessings currently has openings for children as it currently serves 64 children. While mostly Hamilton children spend their days there, Lil’ Blessings also has clientele from Aberdeen, Caledonia and the Columbus Air Force Base.
While a typical day is unpredictable in what the children may do or say, it’s structured with a healthy lunch, physical activities and educational exercises like the alphabet, numbers, shapes and art. It is affiliated with the Gilmore Early Learning Initiative’s OWL program, which helps prepare children for Kindergarten.
“We use a lot of verbal language and ask open-ended questions. We also spend two hours of outside time. If the weather interferes, we still have dance, exercise or something to get them moving to get the wiggles out,” Sanders said.
Lil’ Blessings helps teach morals and manners like taking turns and how to be a friend.
Every May, the four-year-old class dons caps and gowns for the annual graduation ceremony, which includes eight songs and a procession before the children receive their diplomas.
“I feel like this isn’t just a job; this is my calling. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the Lord. Having my husband and my sons standing beside me has been important. These children belong to God and that’s where I got my name because children are a blessing from God,” Sanders said.