Thursday, August 31, 2006

ECP1002: Day 2 in Toddler Room

It was raining this morning. I was feeling absolutely grumpy as I wanted to catch the bus at 6.50 am, but it didn’t arrive till 7.30 am, and I was caught at the bus stand in the midst of the rain. By the time I arrived at the centre, it was already 8.30 am.

I was annoyed not so much that I arrived at 8.30, but because I had a tutorial for one of the other courses that I had to attend on Thursdays at 5pm, and I thought I was going to have to skip it today.

I was mulling over it the entire morning, thinking of what to say to the mentor, if she could allow me to get off early so that I could catch the bus and get to the university in time. My attendance for this tutorial was also taken down, so it was important that I didn’t miss any of the tutorials.

Finally, one of the other university students told me that I could negotiate the hours with the mentor, and I could replace the hours should I had not done them. Which is what I finally did.

I told the mentor that I did not want her to think that I was slacking off, or that I did not want to help out in the classroom, if that was what she thought. The mentor was supportive enough that she allowed me to get off at the same time I did last week, and she discouraged me from skipping my tutorial. She was wondering why I had a tutorial on a Thursday, when the other students didn’t, and I told her that they were all Year 1 students, whereas I was not, and was taking a combination of differe nt intake courses as a result.

Anyway, the other thing was that, I felt that the spirits of the individuals in the classroom (children, classroom assistant) was rather low this morning. I also saw the classroom assistant crying (which I could immediately discern it to be a personal issue), and I tried to cheer up, so that I would not be feeling as low as she was. Having one staff feeling low is bad enough, without the need for two other adults to be feeling just as low as well.

I was praying hard this morning after coming into the classroom, as I really did not want my emotions and worries to affect my performance at the workplace, and that the entire atmosphere would lighten up. Which, fortunately it somehow did.

I know it’s not appropriate for a staff to bring personal issues to the workplace, but I would state that it is difficult for a human to always be able to divorce their emotional state from their work place state. Somehow, being at the workplace with all the children around helps me not to ponder so much on the issues I have at home, because I have to focus on the children instead and the r esponsibility I have towards them.

I really prepared very much for the first day of professional experience, but this week, I was not as emotionally prepared, although I had my paperwork typed out and printed to show to our university liaison, Megan , who had come in to examine all the university student’s work.

I know that, as I have been having issues trying to focus my studies in the past couple of wee ks, and my emotional state has not been at it most positive. Apart from the depression I was going through, I now have other emotional issues that I have to handle, and I am really trying my very best to overcome it.

The girl who cried last week when her nappy was changed (she only comes on Thursdays), did not cry this week. I remembered most of the names of the children, but there were quite a number of them whose names I did not remember.

The mentor was very supportive today, as she gave me some verbal guidance as I read to the children, and sang the transition song to them before their lunch time.

ECP1002: Day 1

24th August: Today was my first day at the Toddler 2 class. The ages of the children range from 2 to 2.5 / 3 years. I found it a bit disorientating, as even though the classroom had routines like the other age groups, nonetheless, there were slightly different group practices due to the children’s developmental stages.

Today was so far all right. The mentor did not write much in my classroom reflective journal, as she felt that it would be “presumptuous” to expect much as it was my first day in her room.

I am trying to understand the context of where my group leader, Ann, is coming from. I would say that I do look forward to working with an older group leader this time around, as Ann has had much experience working with older staff, parents and is a very the “senior” staff in the entire childcare centre, as well as in the Australian context.

This context would differ from mine, where, I come from a Malaysian city life, and context, and the kinds of services provided are very much different. In Malaysia, childcare centres are still a rarity, and there is not much demand for it, as compared to kindergartens (which services children from ages 4 - 6 years of age). This is due to the reason that many of the parents still send their children to their grandparents, or to nannies that they personally know.

Glasser states that the individual child has 4 basic needs, represented by 4 glass jars, in the following areas which are

  • Love and Belonging;
  • Freedom,
  • Fun
  • Power.

Children strive to meet these needs in order to be in a state of equilibrium, and would use different strategies in order to meet these needs on an unconscious level.

Today, there was a young girl who cried when her nappy was being changed. Somehow, I felt that this child was feeling insecure, and I went up to her and gave her a hug, and asked if she wanted to be read a book. Almost at once, she stopped crying and quietened down as I read to her. I feel that she was perhaps feeling insecure, and I had met her need, that is to feel safe and secure. I also had prior knowledge that she was still new to the environment, which is why I thought she might have still been feeling insecure in the group.

I believe that if we give positive attention, and meet the children’s needs in a positive manner, and are able to understand where they are coming from, as educators, we would be able to provide a learning environment where the child will look forward and safe to keep returning to again.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Orientation for ECP1002.

Today, six of the students from the university went in to the centre to do their Orientation for ECP1002.

I am going to work with the 2-3 year olds. My group leader leader would be Ann, who is a lady in her late 50s (I would presume). I am actually quite excited and am looking forward
to work with her as she is the most senior among all the staff and has had the most experience among all the staff.

I prefer working with older staff as I can draw and learn more from her, and her years of experience, as say compared with a younger staff, or my partners. However, in this round, I do not have a partner, so it would be mostly myself working in the class, and I am quite fine with that. From experience, I find that Ann would probably expect much more from students, but I am fine with that.

This professional experience would focus on the usage of play in the program, as well as understanding the context of where a childcare centre/school is in order for it to
function and how the different factors affect how the centre operates.

During the orientation, we discussed with the Director of the centre about the history of the centre.The centre is located in the vicinity of the CBD, or the city area of

One of the issues she brought up during the discussion was the privatisation of childcare centres. Some of the childcare centres in Toowoomba have been bought up by a education franchise company.

The director felt that childcare services should not be like a line of supermarket franchise chain, as too much structure would render the customised structure of each centre to be
too "structured" like, and lose the "home feel" of what childcare should be like.

However, in my experience, although she has some validity in her claims, I believe that a centre, or a business, has to adapt to its local context in order to survive. The way that a centre charges its fees has to be acceptable within the range of what parents in the current context is able to afford.

Although the director and staff of the centre may have a specific motto, philosophy, and goals in mind, the education program/curriculum that they put into practice has also to be adapted to meet the tastes and needs of the families and children around the environment, depending on the ethnicity and values of the families in that context.

Apart from that, what the staff can or cannot implement or do, depends hugely on the education legislation of the State in place.

In Australia, each state has its own different governing policies which looks after the different areas.So for example, what is applicable in the state of Queensland, is not applicable in other states, such as NSW, Victoria or Tasmania. Every state has its own different education
system, and it is only in the state of Queensland where students finish high school at 17, as in contrast with other states, they graduate at 18 years.

ECP1001: Final Day.

On Wednesday I finally completed my last day of the practicum. I am so relieved to have had all my paperwork done and completed it as I can then finally move up to concentrate on the second professional experience, ECP1002.

I came in at 8.30am this morning. When I came in, I told the director that I wanted to work with the infants in the nursery room. Which I did. The reason I wanted to it is because I would not have any opportunity to do so when I start with the second professional experience. Freed from paperwork, it allowed me the opportunity to actually explore working with the babies.

Today, I did not change any nappies. Somehow, I was feeling more lethargic today. I do not know the reason for it though, but I just was. There were about six babies today: Kieran,Lorrain, Phoenix, Isaac, Rohan, Emmi, Louis. Today is the first time I actually had all of them crying at the same time. I was such a shock that I did not know what to do or how to handle them!

Today, I fed the babies. The meal was a mixture made of powdered cereal (mashed fruit of some sort, milk &parsley).After a while, I was able to gauge whether the infants had enough to eat, as they would use their hands to push it away, or they will move their face away.

I also fed two of the babies with their milk bottles. One was a 4 month old baby, and the other almost a year old.
I even burped the 4 month old baby. It was most exciting for me, as it was my first time burping a baby, and you could hear the "gurgle" of the sound from the baby when it burped! It sounded really cute! I was actually rather afraid to feed it as it looked rather delicate, and I did not dare to hold it as I thought I might accidentally drop it or hurt it in some way!

One of the older babies was breastfed. One of the staff would inform the the mother to come in, and the mother would come in during a break in her work time to come in to feed the baby. I was most surprised, as the mother was most elegantly dressed and very elegantly coloured hair. Anyone would be surprised if she told a stranger that she actually breastfed her children, as she didn't look it.

Today my lunch was rice with soya sauce chicken and some vege. Isn't it strange that bringing strange things that invoke the beginnings of strange conversational topics? Renni (who is Pakistani) asked me how I cooked my rice, and this led to a conversation on brown rice by one of the other staff, and how healthy it is.

Another thing that I discussed with another TAFE student on pract, was about hair dyes and the UnderWater World. It was interesting as he told me that the TAFE had a hair academy (which I should have figured out sooner, that if TAFE have hair academies, they obviously would have students doing student services and charging low rates for that as well!)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Second final day!

Today I finally had all my paperwork done for my ECP1001.

Awesome! Today I was stationed at the oldest class, the Dinosaurs class. The furniture of the room had been re-arranged again, and didn't look anything at all like the past 3 weeks I was here. Even the outdoor slides and obstacle course was re-arranged, and didn't look anything at all like what I remember 3 weeks ago.

I would love to work with the infants again on Wednesday. I am going to ask the director if I could be placed there on Wednesday, since I won't be able to do that for my real pract when ECP1002 starts.

My uni professional experience liasion, Megan came today to look at my work. (I am relieved I prayed this morning!). She looked through my work, and noted some of the things in my written work.

She also noted that in observations, we have to reference our evaluations to another author. I know this, but I communicated to her that although I knew by heart, it was not stated in the ECP Study Book, so I didn't know if it was required.

As such, whatever I know to have told Belle much earlier, was right. But Belle didn't believe. It really is not my place to tell Belle everything as she would eventually learn, and she has to learn from her mistakes without my telling her.

Megan also noted that in one of the activity print-outs, that statements such as "the children really enjoyed themselves and had a great time" was not appropriate. This is as it would infer that we are assuming that the children are enjoying themselves, but we do not actually know what they are thinking, and the other is that "had a great time" was too vague a description without any concrete evidence to show what happened.

I know that in written work such as this, we are not supposed to do that, but I only wrote that as every one else had written the same thing.

Finally, I communicated with Megan the same concerns I had in regard to positive reinforcements and verbal statements to manage the children's behaviour. She stated that regardless of how other the other staff felt, if I know and have been exposed to what "constructive criticism" and how to go about it, I should stand on my ground and not follow blindly just because the rest of the brood is doing the same as well.

Which is exactly the same stand that I do not agree with "corporeal punishment". I do not agree with corporeal punishment as I feel that it had not benefitted me even when I was young, and it would not benefit children even now.

The only people I think it would benefit would be drug pushers, rapists, murderers
and drunks.

I also told Emma, the group leader of the infants class, that I was pretty concerned that there was dry pasta in the water play tub. The reason I state that is because infants are always putting things into their mouth, and in particular, the dry pasta bits can be "choking hazards", if staff is not too aware of their properties. I am not sure what she did next, but I will find out later when I come back on Wednesday.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Xeroderma Pigmentosum: A genetic condition.

Yes. is the title of this horror/thriller movie starring Nicole Kidman who lives in a house with her 2 children. The mother shuts every window with curtains and so the house is always dark where ever the children go.

Now, you are wondering...Hmmmm...
"Windows which are constantly covered with curtains.
The walkways are always dark.
The rooms are always dimly lighted.
The practice of never opening a door before the last one is locked.
Children who scream at the sight of light.
A mother who is highly strung.

Seems like an exciting premise for a horror/thriller movie. Well, I thought it rather lame a plot for a movie. Where in the world in real life do children actually go around do that?

And yet, THE TRUTH is that there are! In the movie, Kidman plays the character of the mother of two children who suffer from an acute "allergy to the sunlight".

It has been defined as "a rare genetic condition characterized by an eruption of exposed skin occurring in childhood and photosensitivity with severe sunburn; inherited as a recessive autosomal trait in which DNA repair processes are defective".

Now, you are probably wondering why am I being so "anal" about this whole thing by making an entry on it. The reason is that, being in education, it is important that I know that such disorders actually exists. Although these children will never attend school during normal "day time" hours, however, it is important still that I have an awareness of it.

You also have to understand that such children will also highly be at a disadvantage because they have to constantly depend on others to do service for them as they can never leave the house in the daylight. It is almost as bad as being handicapped.

You have no access to the real world except through the Internet and the telephone. You can't even go shopping.
You have to do mail shopping, or sew your own clothes. You can't attend school like normal people at day time.
And at night when you are allowed to leave the house, everything else is closed.

It is easy to dismiss a movie based on the initial premise that it is "theologically incorrect", as people will start with the premise that "oh, it is a catholic based", so the movie is ir-relevent. Unfortunately like so many movies, the movie is a mix of fact and fiction, which is why it may lead people to actually dismiss the entire premise of the movie.

Well, one thing I can say is that, if you read this particular entry, "you have been made enlightened" by my sheer reflection on it. You can say to yourself, I learnt something new today after all!

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Nursery Room: Rules & Routines

Today I went to the centre again...*Oh Ya* you guys didn't know what happened since my last pract, right? Well, I will put it here later.

Anyway, the group leader and assistant for the pre-school class I was supposed to go today were away. Before being *dispatched* off by my Professional Experience lecturer, Alice, she told me to get ready some activities to do with the the children. So, the evening before, I had gone to the uni library to borrow a story book.

When I arrived at the centre this morning, I spoke to the director of the centre. I was then re-assigned to the nursery class. There were 5 infants that came in today. Queensland legislation states the ratio of 1 adult: 4 infants. Any more infants than that requires the aid of an assistant.

I enjoyed working with the infants. They were mostly crawling, crying or just putting things in their mouth. This is probably the Oral Stage, as Freud allegedly states that all infants will go through in his PsychoSexual Theory.

Anyway, among the OHS rules & routines of the nursery are

1) No student is allowed to stay with the room alone with other infants without the group leader or assistant present. This is a health & safety procedure.

2) Nappies are to be changed every 2 hours.

3) Sleeping infants have to be checked on every 15 minutes to prevent the occurence of SIDS (Sudden Death Infant Syndrome).

4) Feeding times and nappy change times are recorded down each time for every infant.

The assistant showed me how to change the nappy. It looked easy to do. By afternoon, I was *itching* to do that... anyway, by legislation, the group leader had to be there to supervise me. It was easier said than done. The male infant I had to change was having a great time squirming and freaking me out. He had a surprise poo waiting for me.....

The nappies were changed every 2 hours. Their nappy change times were recorded down each time. To change nappies, we were required to use different coloured gloves. If it was a dry nappy, we used a transparent plastic glove. If it was soiled, we had to use a thicker blue glove. Wet wipes were used to wipe the infants' bottoms. The gloves were removed from inside to out, so that any excretion would not get onto our hands. Then the "mat" where the infant was rested on their back, would be sprayed with disinfectant, and wiped. A separate bin for nappies was provided.

The director came in halfway to check on my progress. She grossed us out with stories of "poo" and how some of the children in her experience had wiped poo all over the wall or were playing with it....*GROSS*!!!

I also learnt how to feed the infants with the milk bottle. The group leader, Emma, said that the "tit" of th bottle where the infant's mouth feed on, has to be constantly filled with milk. The reason for that is also because the infant could get colic, which is air in their tummies, which causes indigestion. After their feeding, the infants have to be burped. Unlike adults, who are capable of doing it by ourselves, but not so with infants. The way to burp an infant is to rub the infant's back or tap it gently a couple of times until the infant burps.

I understood of how important it is to ensure that the infants do not have colic as it so happened that day, I had a case of "colic", where I had a tummy ache, which I realised that it was mostly "air" as well, so I was constantly trying to burp itself out. It took me almost half a day to do that!!

I also learnt how to carry the infants. I have always been afraid of carrying babies and infants, in the case I might drop them or some frightful thing might happen. It was really great and fun just interacting with the babies, as they really give you their full attention.

Unlike older children, they are not as mobile at to just run off and do something else in the next minute. But with babies, I could just sit with them there and they will pay attention to you without the thought of doing that. One of the activities I did with was to roll the ball to them, and the infants would roll it back. It was something you could with infants, but not pre-schoolers!

Anyway, as I have said, I borrowed a book from the library. But I have since, not read it to the infants. They obviously do not have such a long-term attention span, so I have returned the book and borrowed other more "younger" children friendly books. I enjoyed interacting with the group leader and the assistant, as they had more time to interact with me due to very fact that there aren't as many children running around and they didn't always have to be constantly on the move like at the preschooler's room.

I intend to spend more time at the nursery, as I would like to learn more about the infants and how to handle them. It is not to say that I do not learn anything being with the babies, as one of the supervisors originally thought so, but as I now realise, IT IS because I do not know as much about babies and infants, that I do have actually more and can learn from them. :-)

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