Andrew is a Early Childhood Development Educator

The opportunities offered during the special needs practicum placements prepare our graduates for a variety of roles in early childhood development centres. Wee Care is an inclusive developmental preschool that serves children with diverse needs from infancy to school entry. While completing a special needs practicum placement at Wee Care, Andrew applied and was offered a position starting as soon as he graduated with his BA in Child and Youth Study.

Andrew says he learned so much from each practicum placement and it gave him that necessary real-world experience and also opened up career opportunities. “When you’re sitting in class you’re thinking, ‘Oh, that sounds easy… but then when you have to do it yourself it’s a little more difficult.'” Now, Andrew supervises students in special needs practicum placements at Wee Care. “Hopefully my practicum students can say they’ve benefited from my knowledge.”

A large part of Andrew’s job is to ensure all children, regardless of diverse physical or mental limitations, are included in all aspects of the program. Many of the children in his care use walkers, wheelchairs, specially adapted toys and assisting devices. He takes a creative and resourceful approach and encourages children to help each other ensuring no one is left out.

Andrew plans daily physical activities in the gym, sessions in the Snoozelen sensory room and works with other professionals including speech/language pathologists, staff from the IWK and APSEA and occupational, physical and musical therapists to coordinate programs for the children. Andrew says that throughout each day there is lots of choice, lots of free-play and exploring, but also structured activities and routine for the children.

Every few months parents and staff meet at the centre to discuss the progress made, plans they have for each child, and the skills and goals they will work on in the next few months.“Teaching is really just another way of learning,” says Andrew. “The best learning environment I encountered at the Mount was in some of my fourth year classes, where students chose a topic, researched it and presented it to the class.”

Andrew maintains a close connection with the Mount and has returned to speak to current Child and Youth students about his experiences and the career opportunities available for graduates. He thinks it is important for students to be aware of the various careers that are open to them upon graduation.

“The best part of my job is being able to see the children develop so quickly, experience new things and knowing that I had a part in their growth,” says Andrew. “I wake up in the morning excited to go to work. I’m eager to teach and learn from them as well.”