I’ve worked in my field of Early Childhood Education for 30 years. I never imagined that I would ever leave it. As Educators we have fought so hard to be reconized as proffessionals and not babysitters. In my career I have worked with many different people in many different settings. I’ve worked with infants/toddlers to preschool and even worked a bit in out of school care. I’ve worked with teen moms in a school setting and even though this was a challenge to me I loved the environment of school. My most challenging place I did a practicum in at school was when I went to Ottawa and finished my diploma. I went to a head start program and I had to teach these children how to play. I remember my instructor telling me that I needed to make sure that the time the children came was the best time for them.
I had no idea what headstart was all about and the children were rough. The preschool was in the middle of a housing complex and we would go and pick them up on the bus to bring them to school. We hardly ever saw a parent the child would be let out of their home and come on the bus. I was asked to sit and make sure the children stayed in their seats and I needed to control them. I sat by one Boy he never smiled and he was angry I was sitting by him. He hit me and kicked me and tried to bite me. I just talked to them and smiled and when we got to the preschool the children ran off the bus and it was like I did not exist.
The preschool had a breakfast program and some of the children ate and ate and ate, some ate and hid under the table. Others took their hands and threw all the toys on the ground and stepped on them. I realized that they didn’t know how to play. I thought all children at least knew how to do that. I set up the housekeeping corner with food and plates and put 4 chairs around the table and sat down and invited children to come and have some food and tea. Nobody came so I got dolls and teddybears to sit in the chairs always leaving a chair open. The children who were not eating would watch from a far to see what I was doing. Everyday for 3 days I would set up the same senerio and on the 4th day a little girl came over and pretended to have food. I smiled and kept playing.
The next day I see the children setting up the housekeeping themselves and they all sitting in the chairs pretending to eat food and have tea. I realized that these children did not trust adults and that me giving them a chance opened up great things. Even the boy that had tried to hurt me the first day softened to me and many others. They would run up to me and hug me. I was told that so many of them only ate when they came to preschool. That was the only food they got and that they did not play. Life at home for them was about survival and when you don’t feel safe you don’t play or have fun or laugh. I understood this because of how I had grown up and I knew how each child felt and so I just gave them lots of love and guess what I made their time in that preschool the best it could be, until it was time to go back to the unknown.
The places that were the hardest for me ended up being the best places to work. In another center the parents were the ones that gave me the hardest time but slowly I realized they too did not trust people and when I left they all told me that they were sorry they gave me a hard time but I proved to them that I could care and love their children like they needed.
I feel it’s time to leave my proffession and go and be an EA in the school system. I have discovered working with special needs children is where I want to be and like I said in a previous blog I’m not being reconized for what I am doing. For the past 2 years I have been working with a child who has a brain injury from an accident. My contract is 2 and a half years and I’m now getting him ready to go to school in September. The boy I work with is non verbal and where he was 2 years ago is night and day. I’ve worked really hard to get him independent and now he can do what the other children can do. I’m really proud of him for all his hard work. This boy comes with a team of therapists all of which have taught me so much. I love working with them to make this boy’s life better. I’ve learned sign language and have taught him a I pad program called Touch talk. We slowly have increased his vocabulary on it.
Most of all I have been taught patience and that one day something works and maybe not the next but how to think out of the box and come up with strategies. One thing I have learned over the years is a good sense of himor is a must and I’m lucky the boy I work with has an awesome sense of humor. We often laugh together. I’m excited and nervous about this change in my life but I can’t just do regular daycare anymore. I know God is wanting me to do this as well and you know when your about to do a change in your life your not sure how it will be. Since making this decision I have 3 really good references and a lady I admire a lot has offered to help me with my resume. She knows a lot about schools and teachers. God is bringing in people to help me and I know He will open those doors for me.
I’m starting the process to sub for September. I need to pick up external forms for the school sysyem and I will be working on my resume. I’m applying for the public school system as well as private schools one being a Christian one. God has this all under His control. I will let you know how it works out. I’m hoping all my experience and knowlege about children will help me. Change can be hard but change also can be very rewarding and God has given me a huge love for both adults and children. I also relate to those who struggle which is huge in all walks in life.