From the heart: A day in the life of an early childhood educator
It’s no secret that early childhood educators lead busy diverse lives that don’t run 9-5 Monday to Friday. There’s no ‘typical’ day for an educator, but they are linked by children, learning and sharing. Sharing how educators spend their days and what they love about their chosen careers is inspiring. We asked Luana Abraham, Visiting Teacher for Cherish Childcare in Taranaki, NZ to give us a peek into her life.
I’ve been working in the Early Childhood Educator sector for over 17 years, in Australia and New Zealand. I’ve worked in programs assisting families in need to prepare children for school, as well as in Total Immersion Maori, bilingual and mainstream centres.
I am now a Home-Based ECE Visiting Teacher with Cherish Childcare in Taranaki, because I want to inspire educators to become more equipped and confident with tools, strategies and aspirations to empower children.
Home-Based childcare is special to me because I believe “It takes a village to raise a child”. Cherish’s vision and philosophy work because educators are acknowledged, respected and provided the necessary support to enable children to flourish. Being a Visiting Teacher means I visit and support home-based educators who would otherwise be working on their own. We also utilize community resources (library, zoo, beach, parks, museum) to ensure children become familiar with their local community and its surroundings, strengthening their feelings of belonging in our beautiful Taranaki region.
The Day Starts...
As my husband works away a lot, I am usually up by 6:20am, showered, bed made, clothes hung out, and breakfast prepared before our daughter Lakey-West is awake.
We have breakfast together, finish our morning chores and load the car. We leave at 8am for the half hour drive to drop Lakey-West at Te Kopae Piripono ECC, our total immersion Maori language early learning community in New Plymouth. She attends Te Kopae Piripono because currently, we don't have any fluent speaking Maori educators with Cherish. Then I head back to the Cherish office.
Days of the month...
I work Monday-Thursday 9.15 - 2.45pm. As a Visiting Teacher my tasks include:
An hour long monthly visit to each of our 9 educators (preferably in their homes).
During my visit:
I observe each child in play and their interactions.
Speak with the educator and review their daily diaries for each child (this builds a bigger picture for me).
Provide any support needed by the educator during the visit that I can. Or I make notes to follow up i.e possible research, or resources to support current concerns or learning goals for the children. As an example, an educator may have a lead or an idea to share in a learning story, but may need further support or ideas to take the child to the next step. Or they have noticed a specific skill a child is trying to achieve, but would like more information to best support this child.
My magic moments are when children run up and give me hugs at playgroups or on my visits, especially as I do not have direct daily contact with the children. This makes my role more meaningful and special - that I can still build relationships with these children.
After my visit:
I write up an Educator report outlining the visit, focusing on areas of support needed by the child. I then follow up on any resources or research which may be beneficial. I like to ensure educators have these as soon as possible.
Educators then send me copies of all of their learning stories. I review, edit and advise educators on how best to support children during the month before my next visit.
Every 3 months I provide a parent report. This summary of the child’s learning is based on my own observations and the educator’s daily diaries and discussions,. The quarterly report was trialled last year, and this year will be implemented with all children. Just recently I have altered my learning story presentation format to make them more appealing and inviting for parents.
My hardest moments are when everything is due at the same time! Or when there is so much happening in a month I have to squeeze in visits. Sometimes visits are rescheduled for reasons such as sickness, or children being away. Then I feel like the visit may be rushed and I might miss some valuable moments and conversations as a result.
Behind the scenes, I also help develop professional development for the educators and deliver these at least once a term (in some cases, weekly).
I also coordinate and deliver weekly playgroups and monthly community outings (excursions), which I try to tie into our monthly focus or planning. I support the educators with a learning story for each child who attended following from these events. These are printed for the child’s learning journal and shared with parents via Educa.
Once I finish work, on my way to pick up Lakey-West, I sometimes call into educator’s homes to drop items or mail off that might be required more urgently than the post can deliver.
Once Lakey-West and I are home, usually around 4pm, I unload everything from the car. At 2 years old, Lakey-West is pretty good at carrying her lunchbox inside the house to the kitchen bench. She takes off her shoes and places them on the shoe rack before getting her tablet to watch one episode of ‘Hi-5’ while I finish unpacking.
While unpacking, I empty her lunchbox and remake it for the next day.
We then collect the clothes and fold them together, put them away and have some ‘us’ time before dinner preparations begin.
After dinner, bath time routine kicks in and then bed time by 7pm.
Back to Work...
Once Lakey-West is in bed, I give the house a tidy over, chuck some more washing on, and make my lunch. Then I usually sit down and finish off some work. Often the parent reports require some extra time as well as writing my own learning stories. If it’s not my own work, it’s catching up on administrative work for my husband’s business or my own study.
My challenges are working in this role on my own. Keeping up with the workload to ensure I am giving each and every educator the best I can, with resources, information, preparation for up and coming events.
What keeps me interested and inspired as an early childhood educator is a passion for uplifting and sharing the wonder of living through experiences as a child. I love seeing the light bulb moment go off in an educator or parent’s head when an idea or experience comes to fruition. Especially when they understand WHY they are delivering it in that manner, and the purpose behind what they are doing. I know then that I may have only reached out to one person, but it is one more person fired up with the same passion and belief in themselves and the children.
We want to thank Luana for her generosity in sharing "a day in her life" as a guest author. If you would like to share a story from your life as an early childhood educator message us via the Educa website or share your email in the comments section.