About seven years ago, I was in a career I did not enjoy. After observing the teachers at my daughter’s daycare, I realized that I was drawn to the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE). Watching the educators develop and build connections between themselves and the children was a joy for me to see. I also saw how invested they were in the children and how much they cared for them. I wanted that in my life.
That experience inspired me to make a difference in the lives of children. That became my focus. The Early Childhood Education program at Stenberg College prepared me to nurture and educate children. Once I started working, I realized that I had a greater purpose. I wasn’t only meant to make a difference in the lives of the children, but also in the lives of their families.
Working with children and their families together
Early on, I realized that I could better understand children with the assistance of their families. There was a boy in my class who had trouble falling asleep at nap time. At pick-up time, his parents kept mentioning how tired their son was. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t sleep at nap time. I asked his mom, ‘how do I get your child to nap?’ She laughed when she realized she never told me her trick. The boy needed to hold her thumb to go to sleep. Sure enough, I offered my thumb and he fell fast asleep.
This interaction cemented my desire to know what challenges and successes parents had, and how I could integrate that knowledge into their education. It was in my ECE class that I first learned that having the support of the families would enrich the relationship with their children.
Children are absorbing information all the time
I taught a little girl from the age of two-and-a-half to five years of age. One day, I observed her interacting with her younger sister when she sneezed. The older sister said “Make sure you sneeze in your pocket” as she pointed to her inner elbow. The little sister said, “Mom didn’t say that”. The big sister replied, “No, Ms. Jill did!”. “Ohhhh-ok” responded the little sister.
Children are absorbing information all the time. Newsweek reports that children cultivate 85% of their intellect, personality and skills by the age of five. A study by the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University concludes that investing in child development particularly from birth to five years, is the foundation for a prosperous and sustainable society.
As a parent, I relate to other parents
I built warm and collaborative relationships with families, so we are on the same page concerning the growth and development of their children. Because my child is almost the same age, we can relate as parents. I am able to understand what they are going through, and how I can best support them.
One of the students in the after-school program didn’t know how to tie his shoes. His parents had tried and struggled with it. I sat down with him and patiently worked through it. I’m proud to say he was able to get it done! It is the little moments that make a difference.
Taking Stenberg’s Early Childhood Education program allowed me to find another circle of parents that I will rely on throughout my life. I will always be there for their children and their families. I cherish the connections, the families, and the friends I have made.
My career has continued to evolve and now I am giving back by teaching in the Early Childhood Education program. Now I am inspiring the next generation of teachers, while continuing to support children and their families. One of my parents said to me, “May you continually touch the hearts of our little people.”
This really is the most important job in the world. If you love children, why don’t you join me?