Though children are dropped off at Jada Kitzmann’s day care clean, she said it is her goal to send them home good and messy.

“If they did not go home messy, they did not have a good day,” Kitzmann said Thursday as she helped children pot marigolds for Mother’s Day presents in her Red Wing home.

She said she encourages children to learn and develop through a combination of activities, field trips and the freedom to make their own choices.

The approach is appreciated by parents, who nominated Kitzmann for Goodhue County Licensed Child Care Provider of the Year. She was recognized for the award last week at a banquet ceremony in Plymouth, Minnesota.

“The funny thing was, I didn’t even know I was nominated,” Kitzmann said. It wasn’t until presenters began to read a nomination letter from a parent of one of her day care children that she realized she had won.

And that is when the tears started flowing.

“It was nice to know I’m doing something right,” she said.

Kitzmann started in the child care field about eight years ago in Ellsworth and has kept it up after moving to Red Wing going on four years.

Her business currently has five children ages 9 months to 3 years.

Motherly instinct

Mother to five children of her own, Kitzmann said she knew from the beginning that being around little ones was her calling.

“When I had my first child I knew that was my job,” she said. “I love being a mom.”

Kitzmann described her day care as Christian based but not preachy, teaching children to be kind and thankful.

She also teaches responsibility with the help of the family dog, which she said treats the children like its puppies and gets anxious when they are not around.

“It’s good to show them how to take care of something,” Kitzmann said, adding, “If you give kids a choice to be responsible, they will be.”

When not running the day care, Kitzmann is studying to complete her bachelor’s degree in early childhood education.

Goodhue County Licensed Child Care Association names a provider of the year based on nomination letters from community members and peers detailing how a caregiver “exhibits special competency, demonstrates professional skills or has made a positive impact on the lives of young children,” the organization says.

The local association is part of the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association, a statewide non-profit support network for child care providers.

Learn more at www.mlfcca.org.