A kindergarten teacher shares how the benefits of Three-Year-Old Kindergarten are far-reaching
From the moment she left school, Steph Davis knew she was going to teach kindergarten children.
'Call me a big softie, but I just love being around children, watching them develop and the joy they bring each day,' Steph said.
'Every day is different. This is a job where being a bit silly as a teacher isn't just encouraged, it's expected! You can let your hair down, you can get in the sandpit, you can sing your heart out even if you've got a terrible voice.'
A kindergarten teacher's work is critical to a child's development, but Steph insists the benefits run both ways.
'It doesn't matter if you get out of bed on the wrong side, their excitement when they see you is completely infectious,' she said.
'I get paid to be around young children who fill me with joy.'
Having an impact
Steph has worked in the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) sector for 10 years in kindergarten and long day care (LDC) settings.
She leads the Government-funded Three-Year-Old Kindergarten program at Marrang Kindergarten in Stawell, one of the first Victorian kindergartens to deliver 15 hours a week of play-based learning for three-year-old children.
With her ECEC teaching and managerial experience in different settings, Steph is well placed to comment on the impact of 15 hours of played-based learning on three-year-old children.
'Our [three-year-old] kids have progressed so much this year,' she said.
The program was particularly beneficial to Steph's group, because the majority had never attended any form of LDC.
'They needed to develop emotional regulation, social engagement, sharing, turn-taking, cooperating and following simple instructions,' she said.
Each child's emotional and social development were the areas where the gains were most pronounced.
'Their language skills and number and pattern recognition have all improved considerably too,' Steph said.
The constant learner
While Steph believes on-the-job training is the best way to learn she embraces the opportunity for further study and is currently completing a Certificate IV in Assessment and Training.
'Seeing how you can make improvements in children's lives is just the best,' she said.
'I like looking back and saying, "I helped shape who they are. I've helped them on their learning journeys".'
The Victorian Government's Three-Year-Old Kindergarten reform will create 6000 new teaching jobs.
For information about scholarships and incentives to become a kindergarten teacher, visit Early childhood teaching: make a difference.