Kaitlin Beard

NOW Magazine - Class Action - - CONTINUING EDUCATION CLASS ACTION | -

Early child­hood ed­u­ca­tor, Hum­ber Child De­vel­op­ment Cen­tre

My job en­tails look­ing af­ter chil­dren and meet­ing their de­vel­op­men­tal needs. A typ­i­cal day in­volves ar­rivals, play­time, snacks, small group ex­pe­ri­ences, out­door play, walks to the Hum­ber Arboretum, singing songs, read­ing sto­ries, lunch and a nap, then an af­ter­noon of play, small group ex­pe­ri­ences, an af­ter­noon snack and get­ting them ready to go home.

I did a Wal­dorf early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion diploma in Ire­land and then took the early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram at Hum­ber Col­lege. What re­ally sparked my in­ter­est was con­nect­ing chil­dren to na­ture, the Hum­ber pro­gram’s fo­cus on real-life ex­pe­ri­ences, get­ting back to nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als in­stead of plas­tic toys and the pro­gram’s in­clu­sive qual­ity. I also wanted to deepen my own knowl­edge, to en­hance my learn­ing and bridge the Wal­dorf and stan­dard early child­hood philoso­phies. Hav­ing had lots of younger cousins and sib­lings, I was pas­sion­ate about want­ing to sup­port chil­dren. Hum­ber’s pro­gram was ded­i­cated to the hands- on ex­pe­ri­ence. From day one they sent us into the field so we weren’t just do­ing the­ory all day. They en­cour­aged us to get out be­yond the typ­i­cal play­grounds and into na­ture. Peo­ple don’t en­gage with green spa­ces enough. They en­cour­aged us to go on a bug hunt, look for things, feed birds.

There were cour­ses on cul­tural sen­si­tiv­ity and in­clu­sive­ness. We learned more about child­hood de­vel­op­ment, which teach­ers of­ten don’t study as ex­ten­sively. ECEs also build bridges be­tween teach­ers and par­ents, so we can col­lab­o­rate with par­ents on plan­ning the most whole­some de­vel­op­men­tal ac­tiv­i­ties for their chil­dren.

We stud­ied cur­ricu­lum de­sign, teach­ing strate­gies, de­vel­op­ment from pre­na­tal to age 12. Fos­ter­ing in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ments was also a ma­jor com­po­nent, as was so­cial jus­tice. We learned to cre­ate re­spon­sive plans to sup­port chil­dren’s in­ter­ests.

Na­ture is a pas­sion of mine, and I’m fur­ther­ing my train­ing in the fall to be­come a For­est School prac­ti­tioner. One course is in Toronto, and then I’m headed to Win­nipeg in the fall.

My favourite ex­pe­ri­ence on the job is see­ing chil­dren’s faces light up when they’ve dis­cov­ered some­thing. It fills your heart to see them thrive and suc­ceed on their own.

In On­tario, you need a Cana­dian ECE diploma to work in day­care and in full- day kinder­garten. If you’re not too picky you can find part-time work any­where right now. We’re very lucky at the mo­ment.

You have to be flex­i­ble. Things can change at a mo­ment’s no­tice. You have to be pas­sion­ate, cre­ative and open to learn­ing. Although we are the ed­u­ca­tors, I learn so much from the chil­dren. It’s not al­ways about the big pic­ture. You learn that small things – a dif­fer­ent way of do­ing some­thing or solv­ing a prob­lem – can make you happy.

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