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My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield...

Blog,Franchise,Wakefield
03/01/2024

Hi I’m Joanna and I started Little Learners Wakefield in September 2023! We all have our reasons for starting a business and our journey in to self employment really shapes who we are. Here is my story…

I grew up in Norwich, UK and I got the bug for teaching early, I was 16 years old when I taught my mum to swim. I had been a competitive swimmer since the age of 6 and it became my life, I was obsessed. I used to train ten times a week, got to stay away in hotels at weekends all over the UK and abroad with my friends, and had a blast! I managed to reach National Level before a back injury got the better of me and I had to hang up my goggles. Swimming is still a passion I have today.

My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…

I trained to become a teacher later than most, I remember being at school in sixth form and freaking out as all my friends knew where they were going to university and what they were going to study. I just had no idea what I wanted to do that I ended up leaving school a year early not finishing my A-Levels and got a full-time job as a Pensions Administrator. That only lasted a year as I found it pretty boring, however my next job was so much fun as I went to work in Finance. Now don’t get me wrong, banking and mortgages doesn’t sound much fun but it was the company who amazed me. We got free food when on shift and there was always some free stuff or fun prizes you could win and lots of incentives. Then, the company was sold off and the new owners gradually took away everything that made coming to work fun and enjoyable and I found myself working for a stuffy bank. That’s when I decided to go to university to become a teacher. It took some work, as I didn’t have A-Levels so for 2 years I attended college two nights a week while still working full-time.

In 2007 I headed off to university in Bedford and was there for four years living my best life and made some amazing friends for life. I graduated in 2011 with a 2:1 degree in Physical Education Secondary with QTS. I started my first teaching job as an NQT and after a year I got a great opportunity to teach closer to home, in a school in Newmarket. I taught there for 3 years and was lucky enough to teach some awesome children. I became an Achievement Leader (known in other schools as Head of House) and ran an after school dance club. I entered our students into the British Red Cross: Dance Make Your Move competition two years in a row, the first year we won our region event and the second year we progressed all the way to the final and the students got to perform at the O2 in London – something I will never forget!

In 2016, I got the opportunity to pursue my passion for teaching and coaching swimming and moved to Shanghai, China in the role of Head of Aquatics & PE Teacher. It was a big culture shock when we arrived as many people did not speak English so we had to learn some Mandarin. I thoroughly enjoyed my swim coaching role and during my time, I gained my Level 3 Swim Coaching certificate. The swim team went from strength to strength and grew significantly during my time there with swimmers making huge progress. In 2019, I was offered the role of Head Swim Coach at an international school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It was great moving somewhere that was warm all year round and we had a pool within our condo. Unfortunately, I only got to experience one term at the school during ‘normal’ times before Covid hit. At the end of my 2 year contract we decided to return to the UK as Malaysia was still in lockdown – it was much stricter over there than compared to what people experienced at home.

Joanna and her husband in Malaysia before her career with Little Learners Wakefield

Now what I haven’t mentioned up until now is the journey my husband and I had been on with trying to have a baby. We got married in 2012 and knew we both wanted to have a family. We were so excited and scared when the test was positive, unfortunately the pregnancy did not continue past 6 weeks gestation but we didn’t find out until much later at about 11 weeks, something called a missed-miscarriage. It took some time before I felt ready to try again, but we did. However, again at a 12 week scan we found out our baby had passed at 6 weeks gestation, so another missed miscarriage and the heartache all over again. We waited a lot longer this time before feeling ready to try again. In November 2017, we had the positive test again and felt more confident as we had some tests in China and I was taking aspirin as it was thought I had ‘sticky blood’ and the consultant seemed very positive about us having a good outcome.

We went home for Christmas and decided to have an early scan at 8 weeks. Unfortunately, the same expression on the sonographers face and the baby had passed again at 6 weeks. Now in Malaysia and under a new consultant, who was super confident as he had helped many couples with our history be successful. This time I was having heparin injections, 100mg progesterone pessaries a day and regular scans. At 6 weeks + 3 we had a scan and for the first time saw and heard a heartbeat! I was having scans weekly for reassurance and returned at 7 weeks + 3 for our next scan, I will never forget the look on the consultants face as he did the scan – yes you guessed it, another missed miscarriage and another whole lot of heart ache losing our fourth baby.

January 2022, now back in the UK and we managed to get my doctor to refer me to a Tommy’s clinic in Coventry as I had heard about the research and work of Professor Siobhan Quenby. After an initial phone call consultation I was invited to be part of her C.E.R.M trial. This involved me travelling to Coventry and having a biopsy of my womb lining to test to see if I was positive for endometritis. Endometritis is a condition that causes inflammation to the lining of your uterus. In February, I received a call with the results and I had tested negative and could no longer proceed with the trial. However, when I went for the biopsy appointment I was given 400mg progesterone pessaries. I was told we could now start trying again and if I got a positive test to use the pessaries morning and night until 16wks gestation – I couldn’t even begin to think beyond the usual 6 weeks we had been accustomed to. We fell quickly again (as getting pregnant was never the issue luckily) and we returned to Coventry for our 6 week scan. I had some spotting prior to our appointment so feared the worst, however this time we had positive news and heard and saw a heartbeat and everything was checked and looked healthy. I left having mixed feelings as I knew what had happened before and didn’t want to get my hopes up. We returned again for a 9 week scan, I have never felt so scared, but again we saw a healthy beating heart and for the first time ever a growing little fetus!

Our miracle rainbow baby was born in September 2022 but our gorgeous little Myla didn’t want to give us a normal birth process. She arrived 8 weeks early at 32wks + 4 and spent 4 weeks in the neonatal unit in Barnsley. Having a baby on the NICU was very hard and with what we had been through with the miscarriages and birth trauma I understandably was suffering from PTSD. One of the hardest things about the NICU was having to leave Myla – it was so hard. I didn’t get the golden time most mums get to experience and I didn’t even get to hold her skin to skin until 2 days after she was born.

My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…

This finally leads me to today. I have my franchise small business Little Learners Wakefield where I get to still be with my daughter each day and am doing my best to be a working mum! I feel so lucky to have found a job where I don’t have to leave her and can have her by my side enjoying my trays and getting messy with the other little learners in Wakefield. Don’t get me wrong its not easy starting a business but I have great support from the Little Learners franchise and love that I am still able to pursue my passion for teaching. I love seeing the littles ones progress each class, especially the ones who have been with us from the start. It’s not easy getting a new business off the ground but I keep on going each day knowing that what I am offering is a huge benefit to the children of Wakefield and I look forward to seeing lots more little ones and their parents come and join my messy play and mark making baby and toddler classes. Our classes are for preschoolers aged 5 months to 5 years. Our January term classes will be running on Tuesday’s 10-10:45am at The Little Hub, Wakefield. I am also available if your little one has a birthday party coming up – they can be as messy as you want them to be, everything is tailored to your preference and theme and I have three party options for you to choose from.

Joanna - Little Learners Wakefield wears her Little Learners T Shirt, ready for a messy play session!

So that is me and my journey to this point. Thank you if you managed to read this far! If you have suffered a baby loss or had a premature baby, know you are not alone and I am always here if you ever want to chat 🙂

Joanna xx

Little Learners Wakefield – Educational Messy Play & Mark Making Classes

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  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…
  • My personal journey to starting Little Learners Wakefield…