HiMama is improving learning outcomes for children zero to five. We support early childhood education because the sector is the most challenging teaching environment. Low wages, lack of professional development and long days; HiMama’s aim is to ease childcare management and support early childhood professionals.
The HiMama team firmly believes that early childhood professionals deserve to be celebrated and that recognition is important. Our Educator Spotlight is one way we are shining a light on the important and undervalued work of childcare professionals.
“I was the principal in a tiny little Highland elementary school almost twenty years ago. I was asked to open a pre-school as part of the Government’s expansion of free childcare in 1999. My teaching qualification enables me to work with children aged 3-12 years in Scotland”.
CHALLENGES IN EARLY EDUCATION
The challenges Juliet describes are familiar to many early childhood professionals. She reflected on three challenges that increase the daily difficulties present in early learning environments:
Taking on too Much Work
“It’s an interesting combination. At a personal level, my default position is to say “Yes” to everything and anything work wise, which means I end up with too much work to do”.
High Quality Outdoor Provision
“At a professional level, it is enabling teachers and early years educators to realize what high quality outdoor provision looks like. It is a process and not an end result. It is easy to think that if you fund raise and spend a lot of money on an outdoor space, then you will have great outdoor practice. However the totality of the learning and care experiences need to be considered. So this includes how staff interact with children and how enabling the outdoor environment is to meet the holistic needs of a child. Also, children need real life experiences, so getting children out and about, especially into nature really matters in terms of their health, wellbeing, ability to be independent and problem-solve and be creative – all those 21st Century skills you hear about children needing”.
Making Systems Simple
“Finally, it is also about making systems simple to adopt, adapt and embrace. So I’m constantly having to reflect and refine my own practice to make it fit for purpose”.
WHAT COULD BE BETTER?
“Nothing, I chose my work and my life. I have the freedom to do more or less what I want in the way I want. I have been a consultant for more than ten years and love the diversity of my work. I am privileged to have had input into significant changes of policy and practice at a national level in Scotland. I love writing about outdoor learning and play – be this articles, books, blog posts, etc. Finally, I still really enjoy working at the front line with children who are great fun, interesting and often demonstrate kindness towards me”.
“I love seeing early childhood centres improve their practice. It is great when staff have the outdoor lightbulb moment and realize the potential and possibility of outdoor experiences, especially long periods of time in nature where they see their children thrive and grow”.
“Parents know their child better than anyone. Their values and attitudes make a huge difference to how children enjoy their time in preschool or school. Also, I find many parents are very supportive of outdoor play and have skills, which work well outside. For example, they will help with gardening and can source many useful open-ended items for outdoor play, such as bread crates, or quick-drying fabric. I love it when a parent brings a much loved rock collection into school to show children or who are willing to express their opinions about what is working well and what needs to be better”.
“My aim is to make myself unemployed. I want a situation in society where education consultants who specialise in learning and play outside are no longer needed as every school and pre-school has embedded an outdoor culture and ethos into its life and work”.
FOSTERING A LOVE AND APPRECIATION OF BEING OUTSIDE
“Some people ask me what’s the most important thing adults can do with children to foster a love and appreciation of being outside. I always say model an appreciation for the natural world and do acts of stewardship. For example, express delight at a beautiful sunset. Pick up a piece of garbage and put it in the trash bin. Share the fascination of finding an ant with your child. Next, let your child play outside on their terms every day. Go to a park, if they want to play hide and seek, then play hide and seek. If they want to run around, let them enjoy this. It helps them learn that the simple pleasures in life are free and self-made”.
Do you have an educator you think should be in our Educator Spotlight? Contact us today and let us know!