Madison Montessori Academy | Kemptville, Ontario
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.
HEIDI’S HIGHER EDUCATION JOURNEY TO EARLY ED
Heidi found her true career passion after volunteering at Madison Montessori Academy in high school. Working with young children really inspired her to learn more about the profession, and once she completed her education she returned full-time to an educator role at the Academy where she got her start.
CHALLENGES IN EARLY EDUCATION
There is so much Heidi admires about early childhood education and she can also acknowledge the challenges in the role. For instance, Heidi notes that in the past having coworkers who are ‘not on the same page’ can be challenging when building curriculum plans for young children. The key to creating a cohesive classroom is open communication between teachers. An example she uses is while one teacher might feel that comforting a child with a hug is inappropriate, others might feel is required. The actual decision is less important to Heidi, and more that all teachers understand where each other is coming from. Luckily for Heidi, these challenges have been an issue in the past, but that currently at her centre she appreciates that the visions for the program are understood and valued
Another key challenge, as we’ve noted at HiMama before – is the lack of fair wages for early childhood educators. “ECEs are not at all paid what they should be”, laments Heidi. Early childhood professionals need to have continuous professional learning to maintain their registered early childhood educator licence in Ontario, and Heidi wishes that there were more opportunities to access professional resources in a rural areas. “ECEs should be given more ways to better themselves in the field”.
FINDING JOY IN THE SMILES
Seeing a child laugh over even the simplest of things brings Heidi the most joy. She finds excitement in the way that the smallest things are the biggest things to children, and the way they experience the world for the first time. “Pay attention to the small things, because they are the big things to your children”. Heidi finds joy in watching the children discover the world for themselves. “It is so rewarding and heartwarming to see a children’s eyes light up when they learn something new and exciting”.
CONNECTING WITH PARENTS
If parents don’t have positive relationships with their child’s educator, that makes it substantially more difficult for the educator to have a smooth relationship with the child. In Heidi’s world, there are 18 children in her classroom and thankfully, she feels confident that she can talk with any of the parents about any issues with their child. If a child has had a bad day she can be honest with the parent knowing that they will understand what that means and how they can help provide support.
One practical way of blending parent communication and learning and development is with her approach to potty training. Heidi uses a toileting agreement created by her colleagues – one where the parent signs a contract that says a parent agrees to try to mirror the school’s approach to toilet training. This way, the parent and the educator are both aligned on what’s required to get through this transition period, and the child has a sense of routine.
“ECE is my passion – I love my job so much and I can’t imagine doing anything else. ECE chose me I didn’t choose ECE.”
For many years, when Heidi began as an early childhood professional, her goal was to work in the school board. She initially believed that moving from a child care center to a K-12 environment would be the growth she strived to achieve. But the longer she worked in her Montessori environment, the more she grew to appreciate and admire the hard work in the world of children aged 0-5. Today, Heidi’s professional goal is to become a Head Teacher in the classroom. Generally Head Teachers are in the role because they’ve been there the longest – and Heidi is interested in becoming a Head Teacher in a senior toddler class, and to establish new links between toddler rooms and preschool rooms – a curriculum she envisions as a ‘Junior Casa’ class.
Do you have an educator you think should be in our Educator Spotlight? Contact us today and let us know!