We had the good fortune of connecting with Shaleena Tareen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shaleena, what’s the most important thing you’ve done for your children?
Being an educator in the field of Early Childhood Education, I have always had an abundance of parenting advice to impart, strategies to implement and knowledge to apply. Even though I was seen as an expert in my field, I have had my share of successes and failures through the parenting journey. What helped me have a tremendous impact on my children was adopting and helping my children develop a growth mindset. Research shows that the language that parents use and the actions taken by them has a lot to do with setting meaningful expectations. Giving process praise, making and accepting mistakes as learning opportunities, talking about how our brains grow as we learn and understanding how emotions play a role in learning have had a significant impact on me raising successful and resilient children. Not only did I have to make a conscious effort to change my mindset, I also needed to bring my entire family on board. This took months of coaching and continuous practice. Our language changed from I can’t do it to I can’t do it yet and we celebrated our mistakes because they helped us learn. The recent pandemic could have been a set back, however a family discussion on how we can grow from this led us on a positive path. We talked about using this time to do things for others that would brighten their day, finishing something that we have been putting on hold, and starting a project from scratch that would promote happiness and individuality. My book “The Learning Steps” and my children’s Etsy sticker business “Gamingwhalepress” are the results of this family discussion.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I set out of college with a Business degree, ready to take on the world. Along the way, I fell in love with an amazing man, got married and had my first child. During my first year as a new mother, I began to take Early Childhood Education courses to help me learn about this new beautiful yet complicated being in my arms. I did not want to fail her. Fast forward two years, and in the attempt to balance motherhood and my career, I entered the Early Childhood Education field as a teacher at a Montessori school in my neighborhood of Woodland Hills, where my two year old daughter could go to preschool. I was thrilled that I would never have to experience separation anxiety with her. Little did I know that being on the same premises made it even harder for her to adjust into her new environment. I constantly found myself hiding from her at work, or peeking through the windows to make sure she was doing well. This just added the distress for both of us. In time, everything fell into place. Soon she graduated into a neighborhood elementary school and I was ready for a new challenge. My first business was owning and operating a small childcare by the name of The Montessori Way in 2004. It was a home based childcare which thrived in time as the word of mouth became my best form of marketing. As with any entrepreneur, I wore many hats. Even with a team of employees, I wanted to do it all myself. The next fifteen years bought loads of professional development in the field, an amazing job as a director of a private school that lasted eight years, another child in my arms, conducting mommy and me classes and a new business venture. I was now a proud owner of an indoor play area for young children that offered many learning experiences. Playsource became a household name and I was once again a successful entrepreneur. I sold the business in 2017 and continued my journey in my beloved field. In addition to currently being an administrator at Bright Horizons, I am also developing curriculums and writing children’s books.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. . Apart from the obvious attractions, a few places to hang out during a week’s visit would have to include 1- A visit to Malibu’s secret beaches with a cup of coffee and an avocado toast from Blue Bottle. Lunch at Malibu Seafood is a must for fish and chips in an outdoor setting with a view. 2- Some water sports at the Ventura Harbor Village followed by a seafood meal at Brophy Bros and dessert at Coastal Cone. Don’t forget to make some personalized chocolates on the spot at Top This Chocolate. 3- Wine tasting with the animals at Malibu Wine Safari. 4- A morning hike with a hidden treasure at Paradise falls in Thousand Oaks. Stop over at Sunlife Organics for a bowl of Acai. 5- A Sunday is well spent at Melrose Trading Post. Pick up an iced latte and a croissant on the way from Alfreds. 6- Happy hour at Pedalers Fork in Old Town Calabasas followed by Gelatos at Tifa.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I have been fortunate to always have the support and encouragement of my husband in every aspect of my career. He has always taken an active role in parenting, pulled his weight around the house and excitedly joined me in any new venture I have undertaken. In my early years as an educator, he would even help me make my class bulletin boards. He still accompanies me on my hunt for items such as empty boxes, pinecones, acorns and the perfect tree branches for the classroom materials that I enjoy creating . He is also the illustrator of my new book, The Learning Steps. This leads me to give a big shout out to Carol Dweck, a psychologist, whose research of the fixed mindset versus the growth mindset and her book “Mindset, The New Psychology of Success” inspired me to do my own research of how to instill growth mindset in children as early as infancy. This research inspired the topic of my book.