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.