I am an Early Childhood Educator working in a Early Learning Full Day Kindergarten class. I am one of the 100,000 people you plan to fire if elected. Somehow you feel that by letting me and 99,999 other people go that 1 million jobs will miraculously appear. We all know the math is flawed, it's been proven. Regardless, you're sticking to your guns and for that, I'll give you credit.
Let me tell you a story that happened recently.
We got a new little girl in our kindergarten class. She's a tiny, quiet, 4 year old girl. She was frightened by her new surroundings, her new teachers and her new classmates. You see, we're a busy class. There are 30 children ranging in age from 4-6. We are actively learning everyday (not just the children - the educators too!)
For weeks the new little girl did not speak. Not one word. She didn't speak to the other children. She didn't speak to the teachers. Don't get me wrong, she didn't misbehave, she wasn't crying, she joined in play with other children...she just didn't speak. After consulting with her parents we discovered that the girl had had a difficult beginning to life. She was quite verbal at home but painfully shy around others.
Because she's so quiet she's just the sort of child that might fly under the radar in a large class with a teacher who is already overworked and overwhelmed. It's the quiet ones who get missed because the teacher is occupied with the children with behavioural issues or physical or developmental delays. The schools are already stretched so thin when it comes to support staff that teachers already have less time for actual teaching when trying to support those who need it with more one on one attention.
But this didn't happen in our class. Our new little girl didn't fly under the radar. In fact, she was right smack dab in the middle of it. Do you want to know why? Because it's Full Day Early Learning Kindergarten. That means there are 2 educators in the class - the teacher and the ECE. That means there are two sets of eyes and ears. Two different but complimentary skill sets. Two minds. Two hearts.
We both make a point of checking in with each and every child every single day and then later we communicate with one another our thoughts on the learning taking place and the next steps for each child. We both took notice that our new little one was not speaking and made an effort to speak with her several times every day; asking questions and hoping for answer but never getting one. We showed an interest in what she was doing each day, encouraging her to try new things celebrating with her when she succeeded.
Today that little girl spoke for the first time in class. We were doing math lesson; we were grouping stuffed animals and then creating a graph based on those groups. Because you see, Kindergarten is the foundation for the rest of a persons academic career. We do REAL learning in Kindergarten.
As I went around the circle asking each child what type of animal they had and to which group it belonged I made a mental note that I would allow my quiet little friend to place her animal in a group without insisting she answer my question. When it was her turn I asked her "What kind of animal do you have?"
And as clear as a bell, with a sweet little voice she answered, nice and loud, "I have a cat."
This is but one victory my teaching partner and I celebrate each day. We also celebrate the child who reads his first book or the girl who can finally count to 20 without skipping 17. They may not seem like big victories to you but they are huge to us. And they are even moreso for the children.
Could this have happened in a Kindergarten class with 20 children, a teacher and no ECE? Possibly. But I invite you, Mr. Hudak, to spend a day alone in an overcrowded class with 20 four and five year olds and tell me that you successfully taught everything you were expected to teach AND assisted 10 with coats AND broke up three fights AND calmed down a child who was having a meltdown AND made sure they all ate their lunches AND made sure you spent enough one on one time with each child to truly get to know them and what makes them tick because while they may just be children they are unique individuals with unique abilities and needs and in order to be a successful educator you must be able to teach to each child's individual abilities.
Two heads.....two hearts.... are better than one. That's simple, kindergarten math.
Firing ECE's, support staff and teachers will not help our economy. It will simply put us out of work. It will also impact the future economy with people who can't compete nationally or internationally because the standard of education in our province will have slipped so low.
Don't punish this and future generations. Keep your hands off the schools.
A Concerned Voter