It’s not just making play-dough!

With childcare becoming an increasingly in-demand career in Edinburgh and the Lothians, our in-house childcare expert, Clarissa, is writing a series of blogs to show you how important a career in childcare is and why you should be getting yourself, or loved ones, interested.

Why is there a misconception?

“What do you know about working in the Early Years?” is one of the first questions I ask students starting each of our Level 4-7 courses.  “It’s just like babysitting” is a more-common-than-I-would-like answer.  I tend to then respond with “If it was just like babysitting, why are you here?”

Where has this misconception (believe me, it is a huge misconception) come from?  How did we get to the point where even the people who choose to enter into the profession of Early Learning and Childcare and Childhood Practice have a view of it being ‘just like babysitting’?  My mother-in-law, E, was a teacher of various ages and abilities for 40 years.  She was reminiscing about the changes she has experienced in education over this time.  She remembered that educators were paid the same as GP’s and received the same level of respect from the public, when taxi drivers would offer free rides and the education profession was still valued as one of the ‘noble professions’.  It is 2017, progress should have been made but we have teacher shortages and many unfilled places at universities and colleges across the country, with some qualified educators barely making more than minimum wage.  Now, we could go into the politics of how this situation came about but that’s not why I am writing.  I’m more of an answers person.  Let’s think about what we can do from now.

The Scottish Government have big plans!

The Scottish Government are fully aware of the value and the needs of the Early Years and Childcare sector.  They have laid out their plan in ‘A Blueprint for 2020: The Expansion of Early Learning and Childcare in Scotland’, of which the four underpinning principles are quality, flexibility, accessibility, and affordability.  Within this vision is a plan to almost double the number of childcare hours offered to the under-5’s, therefore almost double the work force, as well as an increase in the quality of practitioners through training and qualifications.  More care, more quality.  How do we provide the extra staff required for such an expansion?  We need people to enter the profession because they understand the value of what they do.

Did you know 90% of your brain’s capacity is developed within the first three years of your life?

Working in the Early Years is a wonderful responsibility that offers opportunities to develop and guide children through this rapid development stage.  It’s providing experiences that the children might not receive elsewhere which might give them the skills to cope with emotional difficulties in their adult lives.  It lays the groundwork for almost every skill that they will need to function effectively in a modern society.

Within our many Level 4-9 classes we cover topics from; neuroscience to inclusion, reflective practice to responding to baby’s cues, supporting complex needs to care and education frameworks, the list goes on and yes, it does include making play-dough but more importantly, the benefits of such experiences to children’s development and well-being.

It’s not a fall-back option – you can make a difference

So, guidance teachers, please don’t send students into college because ‘that’s all that they can do’ or ‘because it is easy’.  Send them, both female and male (and we need more men in childcare but that’s a different blog post altogether!) because they have the necessary intuitive skills to work well with children and in a close-knit team.  Send them because they have a creative edge that allows them to be innovative in how they work with others and in play.

Parent, family and friends, support the decision for your loved one to enter the profession because you think that they can make a difference in children’s lives, for that’s what it ultimately comes down to.  Imagine a role where you can change a child’s life path, where you can be the difference between a child receiving nurture, love, play opportunities and them withdrawing from relationships or learning altogether.

And please everyone, let’s make the shift towards valuing play and the planning and expertise it requires to provide meaningful play opportunities.  Learning is lifelong and it starts before we’re even born.

More information

Edinburgh College will offer additional places on the HNC Childhood Practice and PDA Childhood Practice at SCQF Level 9 during the 2017/18 session.

Courses will start in January 2018. There will be full time and part time options for the HNC Childhood Practice and part time options for the PDA Childhood Practice at SCQF 9. Funded places will be available (subject to SAAS part-time fee grant applications where appropriate).

We will also be offering Access to PDA courses at SCQF 8 to ensure applicants have the required credits for entry.