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Misconceptions About the Early Childhood Education Program

[The Teacher's Lounge--Where Professional Educators Share Insights & Experiences]

I graduated from Loyalist College in Belleville, Ontario in 2004 from the Early Childhood Education program. It was a difficult but rewarding two years, and even though I didn't pursue a long-term career in the field, I value the things I learned and the experiences I had.

It amazes me the number of misconceptions people have, not only about the program, but also about early childhood educators. I had people tell me they'd heard all we did in class was play and have fun. Although there were days when we did play, most of the course involved a lot of hard work. It wasn't all about fun and games; we learned about psychology, philosophy, theories, brain and body development, behaviour, learning disorders, partnerships between parents and educators, among many other things. The class also involved a lot of paperwork, research, planning of activities and curriculum, and observing children. We spent hours on placements in child care centres and schools, interacting with and teaching children, implementing the activities and curriculum we had planned, and working with teachers and parents.

There were times when we did play in class, but it was always a learning experience - putting ourselves in the position of a child and discovering how children learn and develop through play. What most people see as 'kids being kids', filling their days with meaningless playing, we learned that when children play, they're developing motor, language and problem-solving skills, among other vital learning and socialization skills.

Nothing upsets me more than hearing people call early childhood educators 'glorified babysitters'. Children learn so much in the first few years of their lives. Their minds are like sponges, waiting to soak up every experience and encounter, and every little bit of information and knowledge we provide. Often, caregivers in child care centres and preschools spend more time with children than parents do. We're the ones interacting with them on a daily basis, shaping their minds, teaching them and guiding them.

For anyone who enjoys working with children and would like to pursue a career, most colleges offer Early Childhood Education programs. Many offer distance education, accelerated programs, and some, including Loyalist College, are now offering credits for continuing education at affiliated Universities. Early childhood educators have many options for employment, including infant and toddler programs, nursery schools, child care centres, elementary schools, children's aid and welfare centres, resource centres, in-home childcare, nanny and au pair positions, among many other opportunities.

The experiences children have in the first few years of their lives shape who they're going to be. The people around them have a deep and profound impact on their lives. It is extremely rewarding watching children learn and grow, and knowing that you have a part in it.


Other Articles by Marie Landry:

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I am not an educator but what I know to be true is this; my two granddaughters attended preschool before Kindergarten and they were both reading before they entered Kindergarten. They must have been doing much more than playing in the sandbox at preschool! The one child who had 2 complete years of an excellent preschool is excelling in school now and is in all advanced classes. People who say that early childhood education is just "babysitting" are simply ignorant. My grand-nephew is now in fourth grade and reads at a level equal to a high school senior! His mother enrolled him in preschool while he was still in diapers. I'm thinking his formative years in preschool had a bit to do with his excellent reading ability now. My grandson attended 2 years of preschool before Kindergarten; the summer after first grade, he read all of the Harry Potter books. Do I need to say any more? Excellent article and good points.
Aug 13, 2012

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