Archive for Canadian ECE

23 Nov 2013

Embracing the Early Years

1 Comment Being Intentional, Canadian ECE, Early Childhood Education, Personal Learning Network

Anyone who follows me on Twitter will know that I’ve been at a conference these past few days. As my sister put it I’ve been “blowing up [her] Twitter feed”. As I’m still processing everything, I’m sure I’ll have more to say in a few days, but I wanted to put out a quick post while I’m still on my conference high.

First of all, I met a lot of amazing people this week. Men and women who are working in the field of Early Childhood Education in a lot of capacities, including home child care, centre based child care, parent and family support, post-secondary education and many more. They came in from all across Ontario to learn together, which is an incredible thing, and always an enriching experience to get to learn and share with each other about our many varied experiences.

All of the Keynote speakers were amazing. Today, Lisa Murphy aka the Ooey Gooey Lady re-energized us on our last day by making us laugh and reminding us all of how much we have in common. One great take-away from that was that we should never ever underestimate the value of what we do or compromise our practice because of what others are doing or wanting us to do. Dr. Paul McGhee reminded us that humour is mental play, and taught us all the art of a good belly laugh. Dr. Stuart Shanker helped us to understand stress in ourselves and in the children that we care for, because we need to understand stress in order to self-regulate.  Dr. Paul Kershaw reminded us of the pressures undergoing Generation Squeeze and encouraged us to rally together for change. Nora Spinks, along a similar line, tried to show us the light when it came to finding work-life balance. Dr. Jean Clinton reminded us of the importance of relationships when it comes to brain development.

The workshops that I went to were equally amazing, which is also what I heard from others with regards to their workshops. What struck me about all of these workshops and keynotes, was this almost hidden thread running through all of them. That thread was about caring for the caregiver. On the surface this may have been a conference called “Embracing the Early Years“, it may have been a conference about working with very young children in their families, but what it came back to time and time again, was how important it was to be self-aware, to be self-reflective, to take care of ourselves so that we are equipped to take care of children and families. That’s my big “take home”, that’s what will really stay with me. I think that’s something every Early Childhood Educator should remember. We are our “best practice”, all of the education and the training and the equipment in the world won’t do us any good if we don’t take care of ourselves so that we can use it.

My deepest thanks go out to all of the committee members and the partners that put on this great conference. I hope there will be more in the future.

Conference Partners (in case you want to check them out).

Affiliated Services for Children and Youth

The Halton Resource Connection

Home Child Care Association of Ontario

Hamilton Best Start

Halton Our Kids Network

Guelph Wellington Quality Child Care Initiative

Early Childhood Professional Resource Centre

Conestoga College

Mohawk College

Sheridan College

01 Jan 2013

Be Intentional

4 Comments Being Intentional, Canadian ECE

I’m not usually someone who makes a New Year’s Resolution, although I am someone who tries to examine my life and to set goals on semi-regular basis. As I mentioned in my last post I think that it’s important that each of us make it part of our practice to continually reflect on our own behaviours and to use those reflections to inform the way that we move forward. That being said, this year I have decided to make a resolution of sorts. This year I resolve to be intentional. That’s all, just those two words- be intentional. They will become my mantra for 2013. I want to be more intentional is every aspect of my life, including both my personal and professional life. All too often I have found myself simply going through the motions because I’ve been busy or tired or stressed out and although going through the motions is certainly a means to an end, that’s not the way that I want to live. I want to be present and intentional in my actions. I want to be conscious not only of what I am doing, but also why I am doing it. I want to take back control over my own actions and live more intentionally.

Now, I also know that one of the most important aspects of goal-setting is to identify specific and concrete ways to achieve your goals. I will admit that I’m still working on specific ways I will support my resolution to be intentional, but I will certainly share them as I develop them. The first thing I’m going to tackle is this blog. Up until this point I have posted here when I have been inspired and had the time, or really when the stars have aligned. However, this blog is a way for me to reflect on my beliefs and practices as they relate to child development and early childhood care and education, I want to be more intentional is using it for that. So, having heard that BlogHer is making every month National Blog Posting Month,  which challenges bloggers to post every single day for a month, that’s going to be my first concrete goal. A month long goal is smaller and therefore more attainable, and I hope this will help me to reflect not only on my work, but on my resolution to be more intentional. Wish me luck.

Photo by Baddog_ on Flickr

29 Nov 2011

Musings of an Early Childhood Educator

No Comments Canadian ECE, Early Childhood Education

We might not always feel that we’re valued and appreciated on a large scale, but we make a difference to each child…

  I have to admit that sometimes I feel a little disenchanted with the field of early childhood education. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very passionate about the early childhood years, child development and the importance of quality caregiving. However there are days when it just feels like there’s something about this field that’s too hard. As early childhood practitioners, we struggle for validation, we struggle for respect and we struggle to maintain fair wages without raising the cost of care. There’s a great desire to advocate for the field, caregivers want to be heard, but at the same time, we’re tired, we have families to take care of and it’s hard to find the time to get on our soap boxes and tell the world to listen up and hear the importance of the early childhood field. There are days when I hear someone say “babysitting” and I have to grit my teeth. There are times when someone comments on how lucky I am to get to “hold babies and play all day” and although I do feel lucky to do the work that I do, I hate for people to devalue what I do every day like that, because they say it as though it isn’t work, as though it isn’t significant, as though it isn’t important. I find it so frustrating sometimes.

However the thing about feeling this way is that there are days when I think I want to quit, to leave it all behind, but there are also other days, days when instead of quitting, I want to push back, I want to make a change. That’s one of the reasons I became involved in professional development. The first workshop that I presented came out of my own request. I was an infant teacher and was frustrated by the lack of professional development offered for those working with infants and toddlers. There was one workshop, which had been offered two or three times and that was all. So I spoke up, I approached a few people who were involved with a local organization that put on professional development for child care workers and made my request, loudly and more than once. Eventually my name must have gotten put on a list somewhere because a while later they called me and invited me to do a series of workshops for infant care workers. So I did, and being able to share what I had learned in my own research and my own practice and to hear about what others were doing was a great experience for me, and I was hooked.

It’s difficult sometimes, coordinating so many people, and my involvement is a lot of work. However at the same time, I really believe that it’s worth it.

 My involvement in a local advocacy organization, the Association for Early Childhood Educators of Ontario, came about in much the same way. I was always reading up on the changes in the field and talking to those I knew, both in and out of the field about the importance of early education and what was happening in the field. I realized that I wanted to make more of a contribution to support my local Early Childhood Educators and so I joined the board of my local branch. It’s difficult sometimes, coordinating so many people, and my involvement is a lot of work. However at the same time, I really believe that it’s worth it. Even if I don’t get a lot of feedback, even if there’s only a few people who respond to our newsletters and our events, that’s still enough. It’s not just about the many, it’s about the few, and I have to keep believing that every voice, that every contribution is important.

The field of early childhood is important, early childhood practitioners are important. The work that we do with children is really important. We might not always feel that we’re valued and appreciated on a large scale, but we make a difference to each child and to each family and that’s what really counts. Yes, I have days when I feel disenchanted about what I do, but then I think of the children and the families and I remember that what I do matters.

Photo from Flickr by David Woo (Wootang01)

10 Aug 2009

How do you teach compassion?

No Comments Canadian ECE

Last week I broke from my usual routine to stop at the local Tim Horton’s for a coffee. There was a homeless man outside the store, holding out a cup for change. I met his eyes and said I would give him some money when I came out. When I said this his face lit up. I wondered if it was the promise of the change from my coffee that made him smile or simply the acknowledgment that he was there. On my way out I dropped in my change as promised and wished him a good day. As I walked away his smile stayed with me, and I’ve thought about it periodically since then.

This experience made me wonder- what do we teach children about compassion?

So many people have become cynical about charities and goodwill and I have to wonder if we are raising a generation with less instead of more compassion.

So many people have become cynical about charities and goodwill and I have to wonder if we are raising a generation with less instead of more compassion. Personally, I know that I’m not as generous or compassionate as I’d like to be. That morning I gave that man my change, but that’s not always the case. Working in a large city with a lot of needy people, you learn to avert your eyes. If the change is in my pocket, then I’ll probably give it, but if I have to get it out of my wallet, then usually I’ll just walk by. It’s not something I’m particularly proud of, but unfortunately it’s the truth.

We live in a country where the vast majority of us will go through our lives with all of our instrumental needs taken care of. Most of the children that we work with, won’t know what’s it’s like to go hungry or to not have a home. So, the question is, how do we talk to very young children about something that is so difficult for them to even imagine? If our hope is that in the future, no one will go hungry or die of thirst or have to live on the streets- then how do we raise this next generation to do something about that?

I don’t have the answer. In fact, I’m still formulating the questions, but I wanted to put it out there.

How do we teach the generous to be compassionate and to live to help others? Especially when we ourselves still struggle to do so?

A.N. I do realize that there are children that we will work with who may have experienced poverty and homelessness. This is why I think it’s so important that we are conscious of what we are doing to help.

29 Jul 2009

My Lifelong Journey of Learning

No Comments Canadian ECE

I want to learn and understand why children do the things they do

There is this misconception about Early Childhood Educators. People seem to think that the reason we work with young children is because we “like children.” Now that’s not to say that we don’t like children, but let’s face it, for the most part everyone likes children. That’s what keeps the human race going. Personally, I love children, but that’s not the reason I became an ECE.  Other people seem to think it’s  because we’re “good with children.” To be honest, I’m not even sure what people mean by that. What does it mean to be “good” with children. I sometimes feel like people say that when they really mean I know how to get kids to behave well or to do what they’re told.

I became an Early Childhood Educator because I believe in the importance of early learning and the significance of the early years. I became an ECE not because I like children (which I do) but because I am fascinated by them. When I think about the amount of learning and development that goes on in those first years I am absolutely amazed. In two short years we go from being tiny helpless creatures that can barely control the movements of our bodies and struggle to communicate our wants and needs to little individuals with personality who walk and talk and are constantly learning new things. When I think back to the past two years of my life, I’m sure I learned a few things, but nothing compared to the amount of growth and learning in those early years.

I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner. I’m always reading and talking to people, trying to expand my horizons in every aspect of my life. It’s no different in my journey as an Early Childhood Educator. I want to learn and understand why children do the things they do and how we can support them in the amazing journey of growth and development that they go through. Then, I want to share that with as many people as possible, because I want us all to be able to support our children as they learn and grow.

I hope that you will join me on my journey as I hopefully help the next generation to learn and grow and as I learn and grow alongside them.