I am excited to introduce you to this week's Spotlight Mom, as I have bee using her ORB3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum with Savannah (and Arabella), and can't believe the results -- stay tuned on Friday, when I will share a more detailed review of her infant/toddler curriculum, which is helping my daughters get ready for school, and could help your little one, too.
"Cindi Zarpas, the director of ORB3, has been researching and treating speech, language and learning deficiencies for over 20 years with exceptional results. As the mother of 5 children she has put into practice, on a daily basis, a curriculum that requires no special equipment or fancy toys, but is designed to help children excel in each of these four core domains using what we humans have at our disposal for free: words. She has also developed assessment and activity tools that allow caregivers, educators and parents to track progress in the four core domains while providing developmentally appropriate language. By carefully observing and engaging children in these four core domains, adults give children the skills they need to succeed in school and to function in today's fast-paced, collaborative and media-rich world.
ORB3 is a not-for-profit organization with the mission of training educators, caregivers and individuals to consider the period from birth to three with a new perspective. At Operation Ready by 3, we provide not only the tools and curricula to help every child get ready for school, but also offer training to those adults who want to see every child succeed in school. Sometimes all it takes is for somebody to explain something differently for another person to say, "Wow, I never thought of it like that. Thank you" and begin to change the life of a child. Sometimes the people in a child's life simply need the right tools to get a child ready for school and beyond. "
Please enjoy my Spotlight on Mom interview with Cindi Steven Zarpas, of Operation Ready by 3, LLC. And, remember to head back here on Friday when I will share more about her amazing ORB3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum. I will also be running a giveaway where one lucky reader will be able to to receive a portion of the ORB3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum which pertains to their child's age, to try out with their little one, thanks to Cindi.
Name: Cindi Stevens Zarpas
Company Name: Operation Ready by 3, LLC
Products: ORB3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum, Twinkle Twinkle Little Brain Face Book, Kiddoo Cards
Company Location: McLean, VA
Company Website: www.operationreadyby3.org
Twitter Handle: @OperationReadyBy3
Age of Company: 6 months
Favorite Inspirational Quotes: "When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot in it and hang on" (Franklin Roosevelt); "When you reach for the stars you may not get one, but you won’t come up with a handful of mud either" (Leo Burnett)
Favorite Book: The Attachment Parenting Book by Dr. Robert Sears
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How many children do you have? What are their ages? Your hobbies? Etc. I have 5 children. They are 3, 6, 14, 15 and 17. I enjoy skiing, exercising, going off the beaten path while traveling, and writing.
Briefly explain your business. How did it come about?
Operation Ready By 3, LLC came about as a result of 20+ years as a speech-language pathologist and 17 years as a parent. My observations over the years revealed that some children were prepared for school by 36 months and some children were not. My research confirmed the fact. Over the years, I noted certain pattens of deficiencies that both typically and non-typically developing children demonstrated, and this prompted me to write the ORB3 Curriculum and make available other products that help children develop necessary school readiness skills. I decided to start a non-profit organization to help spread my belief that every child can be ready for school by 36 months of age, regardless of socio-economic status, gender, race or family background.
What is a typical work day like?
Mornings are spent writing, researching, emailing and speaking on the phone, while completing household tasks (e.g., laundry, straightening up, etc.) and meeting my 3-year old’s relatively constant needs. It’s a multi-tasking marathon to see how much I can accomplish before I have to take my 3-year old to preschool by 12:30. Once I drop him off, I typically see my speech therapy clients from 1:00-7:30.
What has been a struggle while starting up your company?
Finding the time to maintain a social media presence, maintaining a website and following up on connections made with agencies, organizations and others about Operation Ready By 3 and the Operation Ready By 3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum.
What did you do in your past work life?
I have worked as a speech-language pathologist for 20+ years. I owned/operated a private speech therapy clinic from 2003-2012. I also owned/operated an all-outdoor fitness company from 2005-2012.
What have been some of your major successes?
1) Helping children who had extremely limited communication skills find their words and go on to attend mainstream schools and be successful communicators and students.
2) Building businesses that had market value and then “handing” them off to someone who wanted to own/operate them
What have been some of your major challenges?
1) Dealing with the behaviors that come along with children who have limited communication, social and emotional skills, since I had typically-developing children at home who are known to demonstrate the same frustrating behaviors!
2) Managing the “business” side of my companies, since I am not a business-minded individual, per se, but am really a therapist or child development specialist at heart and in mind.
On those impossible days, what motivates you to keep going?
Knowing that every child deserved to get what he or she needs from birth to 3 years old in order to succeed in school and life.
What is your balancing secret in managing a business and family?
Making certain I carve time out for myself to exercise, spend time with friends, and move at an adult pace (since I spend so much time with children) so that I don’t get burned out. Leaving myself vulnerable when I have so much energy to expend every day towards my business and my family is never a good thing!
What is next for your business?
I am currently looking for an agency with which I can partner in order to move forward on the pilot phase of the ORB3 Infant-Toddler Curriculum. Once I can get the ORB3 into the hands of care providers and parents, I can get real-world feedback about it. From there, I can tweak the curriculum to make it even more user-friendly. When it is in its post-pilot form, I will seek out a publisher so that it can be made available to as many people as possible.
I am also beginning to plan the First Annual School Readiness Symposium (sponsored by Operation Ready By 3) so that people from all over the world (e.g., scientists, educators, child development experts, anyone who believes in the value of infant-toddler school readiness) can come together to make a difference.
Do you have any advice for other mom entrepreneurs that are starting out and struggling, or are on the fence about starting a business?
Starting and operating a business should relate directly to a passion of yours, not just about seeing a need/gap in the marketplace. There are too many pieces of the puzzle that aren’t enjoyable (e.g., the erratic work hours, trying to be everything to everyone, the financial risk, the energy drain, etc.) that can be a drag on efforts if you don’t feel a strong passion for the idea or product.