As I spend time building this website and planning what workshops I’m going to offer, I find myself reflecting on the experiences I’ve had in this ever changing field of child care. What was it that made me want to do this? Why have I persisted even though I can barely make a living at it? It all comes down to the children and families.
Where it all started…
When I was 18 years old – and yes, that was a long time ago – I was hired as a teacher’s assistant at the Wagon Wheel Day Care Center. I loved interacting with the kids.
But one incident stands out. It was what drew me to this field of child development and early learning – The class was sitting in a circle singing “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, each taking a turn so we could sing about them. “Bobby wants to be a fireman when he grows up….”. And then it was Tracy’s turn. Sweet three year old Tracy. “I want to be an octopus”, to which the teacher replied, “you can’t be an octopus, pick something people do”.
I will never forget the look of devastation on her little face when she was told she could not be an octopus. She cried. And I thought, why can’t she be an octopus? She’s only three years old – why can’t she be anything? I decided right then and there that I was going to become a teacher and my children could all be an octopus if they wanted!
I started in school (way back in the 1970s) and got my “Nursery School Teacher” certificate.
So much has changed since then. New studies overtake the old ones and the way we do things, even say things, changes. Just as it seems like it’s getting harder to keep going in this field, something happens that triggers that little voice inside of us.
I left child care and became a Senior Program Analyst in the field of computers for a short time. I made good money – and I hated it! When we first moved to Oregon in the early 1990s, I volunteered at my church to help with Vacation Bible school. It was fun! And that Sunday morning, one of the kids ran up to me, hugged me and said, “Thank you for being my teacher!”. That was it. I spent the next couple of weeks finding a job in child care.
And the rest is history. Here I am, 35 something years later, and I’m still doing it – and still loving it.
© Copyright 2017 Helen Fern – Early Learning Tools NW