Today was the first day of my practical. I went for my practical at a childcare centre which was located all the way in the CBD. Childcare centres provide daycare service for children up till about the age before they start school.
Pre-primary attendance is not compulsory for children yet, but that may change with the introduction Prep by the education policy makers, which I am not too sure what it is here all about.
Anyway, I woke up at 5.45 and arrived in town about 7.10am. I was going in for the 8am shift.
I was worried about waking up early, as it was my first time I had to wake up early in a long while since the semester holidays started.
I was feeling both fear and trepidation on my first day. Well, the only exposure I had to what was considered what was similar to what I observed today at the child care centre was when I worked in this American international school in Malaysia a few years back. The "group leader" (so to speak) whom I was working under was Australian. The songs and routines were almost similar!
The difference is that, here, instead of being called the teacher, the main "teacher" is called the "group leader", and her assistant, was well, still called "assistant". There was a "floater" who'd go around the classes to serve food. Then there were two other staff who came to relieve both the assistant as well as the group leader.
There was also a cook, who served "home cooked" food, and not canned food.
My mentor would be the "group leader" of the class I would be stationed. Our professional experience liason would be the person in charge, but she was away, and would only be back on Wednesday. My partner for the practical, Belle, reminded me that we could be capable of failing our practicals if we did not do our paperwork. Being such, its better to keep up with the work than to have to catch up later.
Well, I found out that my partner, Belle, an Aussie, is only a year older than I am and has two children. I was pretty surprised she could go around carrying tables and chairs without seemingly any effort, but later I found out that she lifts weights. She also worked in a bottle shop, and said that she had to carry lots of crates.
Basically, I felt a bit lost, as I didn't know what to do, but I didn't want to look like I was...although I was. Well, the first day of our practical required that we get "orientated" to the place. Which is exactly what I was doing. But that did not really help me much, as Belle seemed to know and just flow into the routines like a duck to waters (which was true anyway, seeing that she is herself a mother of a 7 year old!)
Anyway, during lunch time, I was pretty interested to know what the other staff brought for lunch. It didnt' seem practical for me to be going out to buy lunch. The staff had all kinds of food for lunch, ranging from pasta to cup noodles to Caesar salad (without romaine lettuce though). I had packed my own lunch today as well, which was just rice in a box.
I was also not used to the working hours as I had not been up this long for a long while, and have not worked for a long while. The other thing was because I had only 3 hours of sleep the night before, and have been having trouble sleeping, so I had trouble keeping asleep. I would love to try doing the other shifts, which are either 6.30 to 3pm, or 9.30pm to 6pm, but I am limited to the bus time table, as I do not have any transport, and the centre was in the middle of town.
I was almost exhausted by 4.30. Perhaps I will be able to adjust physically to it as the days pass. One of the things I noticed today was that the children were taking their sandwhiches apart and playing with it. I do not know how the other personnel feel about it, but I definitely do not like to see children playing with their food.
The other thing I am not used to is that staff have a lot of cleaning work to do. In part, it is because I come from a country where human labour is cheap, so teaching personnel are not required to do cleaning up. To do that here as part of my professonal experience, is not an experience I am used to yet. However, one thing though, I am waiting to see when it is my turn to change the diapers, but that is not possible since the group I am stationed with were already toilet trained!