Tag Archives: ECE

Fake it till I make it

InstagramCapture_54d78944-37eb-41d8-b17a-296a53177b9e_jpgAt the beginning of this preschool year our class was inundated with babies. There were babies everywhere. Little wee babies only weeks old, smiling cooing babies, and almost toddler babies. We had families who were defining new normal for themselves now becoming families of two or three. We even had a couple of families who were adopting preschool children and becoming parents for the first time. It was an exciting time in the preschool. I myself had a little secret of my own I was 15 weeks pregnant expecting a baby in the New Year. It just seemed like a perfect time to have a gaggle of babies and new families surrounding me.

635601429133700103In early February I gave birth to a healthy baby boy. He was preterm but perfect. Small yes but ready for this world. So ready he was out in 13 minutes flat. We were now a family of four and going home to define a new normal for ourselves. My daughter was a big sister and my partner and I were now parents of two. A little adjustment period was to be expected.

What I didn’t expect though and what shook me to my core was an absolute feeling of disconnect. I absolutely did not feel connected to my baby. This feeling of disconnect lead to feelings of guilt, sadness and shame. My partner adjusted to having two children so smoothly he was so in love with his family and children. I did not want to burden him with my shame. My baby gained weight slowly and the midwives were concerned. I was fearful of telling them how I was feeling, scared they would blame this disconnect on his inability to gain weight quickly or latch properly. So quietly on my own I decided to fake it till I made it. I put my best parenting foot forward. To the outside world I was a good mom, I snuggled my baby, I smiled and I griped about lack of sleep. Inside I felt like I was dying. How could I not have a connection with my own child? I connect with other people children every day.

I was also overtaken with anxiety. I was constantly worried my baby would get hurt and that it would be my fault. So I tried not to be alone with him often. I was thankful for sharing circles with colleagues, preschool pick up for my daughter and family functions.

Struggling hurts, struggling alone is soul crushing. Two things saved me. At eight weeks the health nurse called. I found a quiet room in our house I locked the door and I told her everything. I cannot thank her enough for listening, letting me say a hard truth and all the follow up phone calls and appointments.

The other thing that saved me happened at pick up for preschool for my daughter.  Morgan one of her wonderful educators came and checked in with me. She said to me “Just so you know we haven’t brought up baby with Helaina. We are waiting for her to talk about him. We are just focusing on her right now and she is doing great.” I cannot tell you how much those words meant to me. They were exactly what I needed to hear. Two wonderful caring educators were looking out for my daughter every morning and focusing on her. Which gave me permission to just focus on my baby.

Ten weeks have passed since that time and I am absolutely in love with my baby. I can’t wait to see his smiles in the morning. He is the happiest little man a parent could ask for. He gains weight like a champ so much so that he is already at four months of age wearing 12 month old clothing. The health nurse informed me on our last visit that he was in the 90th percentile for head circumference, length and weight. So in her words “He is a big baby but he is proportionately big.” I feel absolutely connected to both of my children.InstagramCapture_087684b2-76b5-4623-b048-8d3d6aa641de_jpgI can’t help but think about all those babies in September, all those families defining a new normal for themselves and I wonder were any of them faking it till they made it? If they were I hope we said or did something to help.

If you are struggling with  postpartum depression or anxiety please don’t fake it till you make it. Seek help. Talk to your midwife, doctor and/or health nurse.

 

Advocating for Education

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During the next few weeks we will be posting stories of Advocacy for Camosun’s ELC program.  Today’s story come from Rhonda at Lambrick Park Preschool.

Hello ELC supporters.

Today, the preschool children and educators at Lambrick Park Preschool & Childcare delivered a very special letter to the Chair of the Camosun Board of Governors.

The attachments show the envelope the letter was secured in.

The envelope contained over 35, 17 inch paper eggs that had been marble painted with pastel paint by the children and educators at our preschool and our current Camosun practicum student. 

The letter explained that the children had made and given magical eggs to the Board of Governors.  The eggs were to help them all remember to listen, cooperate and share because that is what we learn at preschool. The letter explained that working together was awesome because “everything is awesome when you’re part of a team.”  It explained that the children and educators wanted Camosun to keep its 2 year ELC diploma program just as it is now so that it can continue to provide quality educators for our programs, families and children, maintain professionalism in our field and so we can continue to support and be proud of Camosun College.

We asked the Board of Governors to take good care of our beautiful eggs.

We wrote the letter on manilla paper with a purple, grape smelling Mr. Sketch felt. 

The children made their own envelope and decorated it with a handmade flower and stickers. The envelope was approximately 2 feet by 2 1/2 feet large.

I was honored to hand deliver the special package to the college this afternoon.

Those of you who are fortunate to spend your day working with small children, we encourage you to ask your children to create some special pieces of art and with their permission, send them to the college next week. 

When we all work together, we can create something awesome.  (have you seen the Lego movie??!)

Yours in child care,

Rhonda

Proudly AKA Teacher Rhonda

What Does Professional Look Like To You?

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Danielle in typical work attire.

Wow, great dialogue started on our Facebook page about professional attire and the ECE. Thank you to all the people who emailed me as well after my post on wardrobes.

Do you know I have been thinking about that post for over a year? I wrote it six months ago and it took me until two weeks ago to muster up the courage to post it. I knew it would spark some intense feelings. I worried about the message and how it would be taken.  I sent the post to many trusted colleagues for feedback. I agonized over every word. I almost didn’t post it.

I am glad I did though. I have been pleasantly surprised and excited by the dialogue it has inspired. Even the people who disagreed with me and left comments, I was glad to hear their perspectives. It’s not so much that we agree with each other but that we have the willingness to discuss these issues together. To think together about what our values are and how our programs can reflect those values back to our communities.

The catalyst for this post was my experience subbing last year. Seeing educators who felt like they had been beaten down and looked it too, noticing where the wages were low the professionalism was also low. It didn’t reflect the educator’s passion though. If I asked the right questions I could see that twinkle in their eyes about why they entered the field.

While on holidays I talked to anyone who would listen to my stream of thoughts.  In conversation with others I remembered something I heard long ago when I was entering the work force.  “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Now I have the job I want so what if we shifted that statement to “Dress for the respect/wage you want, not the respect/wage you receive.”  To me that’s what it’s about.

 I am one of the lucky ones who receive a living wage, have benefits and I feel respected in my workplace. What I want though is for my field to be respected in our society. For it not to be an issue of luck, I want children and families to be first in line for funding and honestly I want Christy Clark/Adrian Dix/Stephen Harper/Justin Trudeau/Thomas Mulcair to say they respect us…… and I want to believe them when they say it.

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Kim at work

Somehow a few people believed I was suggesting ece’s needed to be more stylish.  Goodness knows the style fairy chooses to skip my house most mornings. There are days where I wish Stacey London and Clinton Kelly would surprise me at a presentation to say they are going to take me shopping in New York city. I find myself wishing for a personal stylist when I am going on the road with Kim (she is the most stylish ECE I know). Style and professionalism are two separate things that can intertwine. I think we all deserve to feel stylish and confident but what I was suggesting was professional and confident.

Professional is different things to different people. To a former student of mine she feels professional when she wears suits, blazers and blouses that don’t show her shoulders, to my mother she feels professional when she looks stylish, a co-worker feels professional when she has the right clothing for the right season (i.e. rain slickers and gumboots for rain) and I feel professional when I dress in clothing that makes me feel like a professional.

I would like to know what professional looks like to you. So I would invite you to send me a photo and a few lines about what looking professional means to you. If you have a blog send me a link to a post about what professional looks like to you. Next month I will do a post sharing your pictures, stories, posts and together we can discuss what professional looks like in Early Childhood Education.  Send pictures, links and stories to ddavis@imagesoflearningproject.com

I look forward to continuing the dialogue!

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Real Stuff: The Dough Edition

There is something about real dough, especially bread dough. When I bake a loaf of bread I feel I have accomplished something . The act of kneading the dough is my favorite part, its like meditating.  I loose myself in the process of making bread.

Last week the children baked pizza from scratch for their father’s. We practiced making dough a couple weeks ago. I showed them how to knead bread by pulling one side over with their fingers and pressing it down with the palm of their hand. The children really enjoyed this process. So much so that when we made the dough for our father’s day party I had children who kneaded the dough for a long time. I watched as they poked the dough and watched it spring back with delight. This is the thing about real dough it reacts. It springs, it rises, it gets hard and crusty on the outside and soft and bubbly on the inside.

I made play dough this week thinking the children would enjoy kneading it, poking it, etc…. but here is the thing about play dough it doesn’t react. It does not spring back, rise, get bubbly etc…. I did not colour this batch, I don’t usually.The children got excited when they saw the dough initially but without the reaction it seemed to loose its appeal.  So now I find myself wondering why do we always have play dough? Just like real tools, maybe children appreciate the realness of a dough that reacts.

 

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When Children Choose

Let me describe a typical snack time. The table is beautifully set by the children. Each child brings their own snack that their  parents have lovingly supplied for them. Some children have many choices and some just have one treasured item for snack.

The children sit and talk for sometime but a lot of the snack choices end up back in their lunch kits or packs. Snack is never the focus. Most of the time as well one child is done before everyone else and returns to playing.

This morning the children and I decided to walk to a local market and pick up snack first this morning. We had discussed it on Wednesday at snack. I had suggested that maybe we could make a salad. The children wholeheartedly said “no” We talked about other things we could pick up. By the end of snack on Wednesday it was decided we could pick up cheese and crackers.

When we got to the market we first looked at the local vegetables they had outside. The first thing we saw was a cucumber. I asked if the children wanted cucumber some shouted yes some shouted no. So at that point I decided we needed a more democratic process. I rephrased my question “Who would like to have cucumber for snack? Please put up your hand.” Two thirds of the class put up their hands. I then asked “Who would not like cucumber for snack? Please put up your hand.” It was decided yes we would have cucumber for snack. We did this same process with apples. Then we walked into the store and looked at the dairy cooler. I started listing off what was available. Cheddar Cheese, goats cheese, yogurt……. The children all said yogurt. We invoked the democratic process again to decide on whether we wanted strawberry, peach or raspberry yogurt. Raspberry it was.

Then the children pointed out the cracker shelf and asked if they could get the bunny crackers. Again we had two choices cheddar bunny crackers or chocolate graham bunny crackers. They chose the chocolate. We paid for our groceries where the children all informed the shop keeper of their age and what their favourite thing to do at preschool was.

We returned to the preschool  I invited the children to play. While they played I happily cut apples and cucumbers and arranged them in a pleasing way on a bamboo cutting board.  Today our food was the centre piece. I set the table with an organza runner and the board of cucumbers and apples in the centre. I returned to the counter to get the bowl of crackers and yogurt. When I returned to the table three children were already sitting at the table. I said “Oh you can still play I am just getting ready for snack.”

“We want to eat snack now” they told me.

I asked the whole class if they wanted to have snack now and it was a resounding “yes”

The children washed their hands and we had snack. Now here is the thing. They ate everything. I mean everything. Apples, cucumbers, yogurt and of course the chocolate bunny crackers. Nothing was left on the table, save for a few apple peels. I asked them what was different about this snack. They said it was delicious.

I told the children we still had one apple, half a cucumber and half a box of bunny crackers left. That we could have another snack on Monday when we returned if they liked. They all thought that was a smashing idea.

“Can we do this again?” a child then asked.

I said “Well yes we are going to finish the leftovers on Monday.”

“no can we go to the store and pick our own snack again.” the child asked

“Can we get peach yogurt next time?” another child piped in.

I said of course.

Here is the thing not only did they eat everything but they all stayed sitting and talking for a long period of time. Half hour to forty-five minutes long. Decisions were made around that table. We were going start choosing our snack once in a while. It was also decided we would try a new yogurt each time. Peach next, strawberry after that and maybe raspberry again. This was a “working” snack. They all chose to start together and they all ended snack together. That never happens.

Snack today was  a good reminder  of how invested children are when they have choice and control over their experiences.

“It is the ability to choose which makes us human.”

anonymous