Colette Ernst, Success by 6 Coordinator
Quality child care matters! Research—in more than one country—shows that quality child care for children in the early years benefits children cognitively, socially, intellectually, and in language development. When children are at risk or when parents don’t have many resources, this can make even more of a difference, according to research. Okay but what does that mean?
In the eyes of a child quality childcare may be a place where they are accepted no matter their ability and culture, where they have friends and adults who listen to you, and where they can engage in fun and interesting activities in a safe and friendly environment. For the parent it may mean knowing there are health and safety practices, a blend of school readiness teaching and play, respect for cultures and a child’s abilities, and an affordable and convenient location. From a provincial perspective quality child care programs have appropriate policies and procedures, go beyond the minimum standards, and incorporate diversity in their programming.
Quality child care can come in many forms, and in Tumbler Ridge we are fortunate to have many opportunities to have our children engage in programs that encourage them. Children grow and develop through play; reading books, squishing play dough, playing dress-ups and exploring colours with finger paints all play a role in building learning patterns and concepts. Library programs, drop in day programs and preschool all provide a variety of learning opportunities led by skilled and educated individuals. We have a wealth of incredible people who believe in our children. Educators who genuinely love children.
And that’s the key really to quality, I believe. It’s the heart of the educator. Someone who is compassionate and responsive to children’s needs and hopes. Someone who is willing to teach the way a child learns. Someone who cares about the child and is willing to work to develop a teacher-child relationship. Tumbler Ridge childcare providers have that heart.
We can all probably recall a story or two of a time when a teacher or adult in our lives made a significant difference to how we view the world. I vividly remember my grade 12 science teacher who had us all hold hands and pull each other out into the hall to show the concept of cohesion-tension theory. I had to look that up again—the technical word for it, but I will never forget the concept. Why? Because of a teacher who used creativity and imagination to teach. I see that every time I walk into the library and see the joy on both the kids and staff’s faces during Wednesday clubs, or listen to the ideas and passion of our early childhood educators in our preschool, StrongStart and ABC program. I see that in how our community values children and families.
May is Child Care Month and on May 21 we will be honouring the early care and learning professionals in the South Peace with the Helping Little Hands Awards of Excellence. Last year Tumbler Ridge received six awards at the event, honouring the hard work and dedication of our early years educators. Some of the criteria for excellence include a commitment to professional development, a collaborative approach to program development and a inclusive, responsive and caring attitude. As a parent this is what I want for my children, who I want them to look up to as a role model. As a community developer this is who I want to work with, and who I know will build our community into a better place for families and children.
Quality child care matters. Research shows it, But more importantly I see it in the way that child care affects the lives of the children in our community by inspiring them to explore, build relationships, learn cooperation and benefit the whole family. Child care providers are foundation builders—along with loving supportive parenting—shaping children who will strive and grow and become our legacy.