When I first started my career as a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE), I had the good fortune to work in a fabulous toddler program with some very experienced, generous, loving and compassionate colleagues. In this program, we had the usual mix of busy, exploring toddlers and one little girl who was particularly spirited and strong willed. On most days, it took at least one educator of our threesome to shadow this energetic child and redirect her, help her manage her emotions, negotiate with her little peers, and adapt to our program schedule. Nap time was quite a challenge as she still had lots of energy and a completely different goal than the three of us in our teaching team, who were also in need of lunch and some quiet time. We would take turns spelling each other off, negotiating, pleading, standing on our heads and doing anything to settle this ‘‘little firecracker” on her cot. Most days her goal of staying awake and resisting our persuasions was achieved. We had many formal and informal meetings strategizing how we would teach her how to settle her body and rest at nap time.
One day when I was particularly frustrated and sighing out loud, my head teacher empathized and told me that we had learned a lot from this little girl and it was through life’s challenges that we learn the most. From that day on, I had a better appreciation for our little girl’s character and the feelings she was trying to express with her behaviors. As a team, we learned to be thankful for the great teacher this child had been to us. As it happened, I was later blessed with a spirited child of my own and continue to be an active learner as each day passes.
Written by Joanne Boyd, RECE, BSc
Family Life Educator