Stacey is a French Language Early Childhood Educator
If you are fluent in a second language and you are a Child and Youth Study graduate, professional opportunities exist to apply your language skills and your knowledge of child development to enrich children’s lives.
Stacey is fluent in French and English, but in her pre-primary classroom she speaks only French. Since all verbal and written communication with children and families is in French, children attending a Conseil Scolaire Acadien Provincial (CSAP) school or preschool must have one French-speaking parent, grandparent or caregiver.
“The only time I wouldn’t speak French is if a child is very unhappy or if they’re endangering themselves or somebody else, but other than that everything is in French,” says Stacey. For some of the children this is their first exposure to the French language and though they may arrive in Stacey’s pre-primary class at Le Petit Voilier unable to speak or understand French, by the time they leave they are ready to attend French elementary school.
Of the Child and Youth Study degree, Stacey says, “It’s a great program! I’m being biased because all my life I’ve loved children and so I knew going into university that I wanted to work with children. For me, there was almost no question about it.”
Initially, Stacey planned to go into elementary education after finishing her Child and Youth Study degree. But, her practicum placement at Le Petit Voilier changed her mind. Stacey says the practica were her favourite component of the degree program because she gained valuable hands-on experience and because her last practicum resulted in her being hired directly into her current position after graduating. Salaries at CSAP are based on education and experience. The four-year BA in Child and Youth Study places Stacey at the highest level on the educational scale at the preschool and that is reflected in the amount of responsibility she holds and in her salary level.
The mix of English and French speakers in Stacey’s class varies from year to year and this year all her children are English speakers who are new to the French program. At a little over a month into the school year, she says the children now understand more French than they speak. When children don’t understand, Stacey must find ways to communicate non-verbally with gestures and visual aids so that children will connect the French language with the visuals and the gestures she uses.
To prepare children for the transition from preschool to elementary school, the pre-primary school day is routine-based with a variety of teacher -directed and child-directed activities, story-times, arts and crafts, snack times, free-play, outdoor recess, singing and dancing. Along with routine and structure, Stacey stresses that creativity and self-expression are fundamental to early development, so activities are child-oriented and provide children with opportunities for exploration.
“The most rewarding part of my day would definitely be witnessing the children achieve something they’ve been working very hard at and seeing their pride and happiness,” says Stacey.