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Live and learn: working with children

Posted October 2, 2013, by Julia Watters
Live and learn: working with children

I seem to be the black sheep in my family. With a mother who works in early childhood education and two sisters who are primary school teachers, I am the only woman in my family who doesn’t work with children. While I could argue that some people I’ve had to work with during my career have acted like children, the distinction remains.

And the teaching tradition doesn’t stop there – my extended family tree is littered with educators. It’s a fact that I’m fairly proud of, as I believe it sits under the banner of noble professions, right alongside medical professionals and UN ambassadors.

After all, teaching is something that most people have had direct experience with. It’s the profession that allows the rest of us to get our own profession by equipping us with the skills and qualifications we need.

You might think that the learning process doesn’t begin until school but you’d be mistaken. Realistically, our learning journey begins when we take our first breath and start to grapple with the world outside the one we just spent the last cosy nine months in.

From there we begin to form motor skills, recognition and response, and language. For most of us, our parents take the time to nurture and encourage these developments. Many children also experience childcare in some form or another, especially as modern parents become more time-poor. For me, it was preschool and it was fun, fun, fun! What I didn’t realise is that all those play activities, those stories, that outdoor equipment – it all had a purpose. It’s called pedagogy.

Pedagogy is the science and art of learning and is used to create an effective framework for all stages of education. Childcare centres, while a convenience for working parents, are placing more importance on preparing children for school. This is reflected by new government requirements for qualified teaching staff and better staff:child ratios in long day care and pre-school centres. My mum delights in helping children ready themselves for ‘big school’ and she’s very aware of the difference it can make in their transition.

I may not remember my first day of school but I remember my kindergarten teacher. Her name was Mrs Douglas and she was one of the loveliest and most patient people I’ve ever met. Actually, looking back on all my primary school teachers, I have to admire their tolerance and attitude. They were the reason both my sisters to follow a career in teaching and why I have nothing but respect and admiration for their decision.

If you’re interested in a teaching career, you’ll need formal training and there are plenty of courses to choose from, like the Bachelor of Education (Primary). Who knows, you may just inspire one of your students to become a teacher too!

Julia Watters

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