Teachers turn to early learning for professional development
Amanda Hine knows the value of a high quality early learning program.
The teacher and centre director at Goodstart North Melbourne has been in the profession for 13years and loves sharing her expertise and experience with the children at her centre.
She is joined by four other teachers at Goodstart North Melbourne – Kristi Wykes, Claire Evelyne Fanny, Jill Rylands and Sui Yau Yeug - all of whom decided to specialise in early learning.
“There can be a bit of a stigma around being an early learning teacher – that it’s ‘just’ childcare – but the studies are showing that during the period from birth to five years, children learn more than at any other time in their lives,” Ms Hine said.
“And that’s why it’s so important that high quality teachers are joining early learning centres.”
Harvard University research reveals that in the first few years of life, more than one million new neural connections are formed every second. The process is driven by the interaction of genes and the child’s experiences, and it’s these early connections which build the brain architecture upon which all future learning depends.
In fact, there’s a lot of research out there all pointing to the fact that the first five years of a child’s life matter, a lot.
“Teaching in an early learning setting is very different to the school system,” Ms Hine said. “And that’s one of the reasons I chose not to go into a primary school. Learning at our centre is all about interest-based teaching which is led by the children and based on what they want to learn about.
“The result of this is that they’re more engaged because they’re interested in the subject and are not being forced to learn.”
She believes the environment of collaboration in an early learning centre is beneficial to teaching and that focusing on building relationships is great for families, children and educators.
Ms Hine’s colleague Claire Evelyn Fanny said she made the decision to become an early childhood teacher because of the knowledge she could bring to the role.
“Learning theories can provide us extensive insights to identify and understand the learning in children’s play,” Ms Fanny said.
Fellow teacher Kristi Wykes agrees.
“I was originally interested in primary school teaching, but throughout the year I started that degree I began researching and understanding how fundamental the first five years of life are in regards to children’s learning and development and how these years prepare them for the rest of their life,” she said.
“That became more important to me than working in the school system.”
Teacher Jill Rylands believes an early childhood educator is not just about teaching the educational components. “It’s about the social/emotional intelligence skills that children need for life - it’s about building confident children to be able to go out in to the world and succeed. “
Goodstart employs more than 1000 teachers nationwide, with more than 900 of those in designated teacher roles in our kindergarten and preschool rooms.