First day of school doesn’t have to be a time of stress

Dave Mathieson
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Early childhood educators at the NSCC Early Childhood Learning Centre were back at work last week preparing the arrival of children today. They participated in training programs such as such as First Aid and the Tumblebugs program, which teaches the joy of movement. The teachers are, (clockwise, from bottom left) Sarah Duguay, Lisa Moore, Jennifer Elliott, Karen Stone, Amie Harrison and Kathy Carroll.

SPRINGHILL – Tears will be sure to flow today when children are shuttled off to child care centers throughout the region, and many of those tears will come from the eyes of parents.

“Usually the parents are more stressed than the children because, for some of them, it’s the first time they left their children alone with a child care provider,” said Jennifer Elliott, administrator for the Early Childhood Learning Centre at the Nova Scotia Community College’s Cumberland Campus.

To help alleviate that stress the centre has an open-door policy.

“We assure the parents their children will be OK, and we have two-way mirrors in the observation room so they can watch their children whenever they want.”

Kids quickly get used to a new environment.

“The room is set up with interesting and educational activities, so it draws the children in,” said Elliott. “When they come in in the morning there’s a variety of activities set out for them.

“There’s sand, there’s water, there’s dramatic play, and there’s also creative art out all the time,” she added.

The teaching method used at the ECLC is called ‘Emergent Curriculum.’

“Some activities are teacher directed but we go on the children’s needs and interests,” said Elliott. “If they’re interested in fishing, that’s what we learn to apply.”

Another way to make the transition easy for kids is for parents to keep their children on a routine during the week and on weekends.

“If they’re up until midnight on Sunday night they will come into school cranky on Monday morning,” said Elliott.

Child Care Connection Nova Scotia recently presented the NSCC ECLC with an ‘Early Childhood Learning and Care Award of Excellence for Practice’ during a ceremony in Dartmouth.

“We strive to go above and beyond, partly because we’re a learning institution and we teach the Early Childhood Learning Program, so we want to be role models for students,” said Elliott. “Also, our staff is very well educated and qualified, and when staff come in, they never leave. We don’t have staff turnover.

“Also, because we’re a lab school for the Early Childhood Learning Program we have the students down all the time in the program,” she added. “So the children get a lot of one-on-one time. They’re always with their teachers, plus, they also get students in as well.”

People visiting the day-care for the first time are often struck by the children’s bathroom. It has a long row of tiny porcelain toilets and a long row of porcelain little sinks for the kids.

“We built this child-care centre (from scratch),” said Elliott. “We didn’t go into an old school and tear things up. We designed it for a toddler centre.”

The centre is open to kids age 18-months to five-years-old, and spaces are still available.





Organizations: Nova Scotia Community College, Early Childhood Learning Centre

Geographic location: Dartmouth

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