Going out on to practicum is an experience you cannot compare to anything else. The first few days, you walk around in a haze – there is so much to absorb and take in, but by week two everything clicks in to place and you start to find your groove.
On an average day as a student you have a lot of freedom. You’re not counted in the teacher to child ratio, which means you can really focus on building authentic and strong relationships from the get go. In one day, I have received 20-plus hand holds, five drawings and countless hugs. I’ve been trusted to run mat times, and have been given the resources to go off on my own and create amazing art projects with the kids I work with.
Through our university papers in the arts, I’m not going into practicum without any practical knowledge. I know how to work with clay, paint, and carpentry tools. I know basic songs on the ukulele and am not afraid to read a story with many dramatic voices. And I could use all these skills in just one day.
I have loved all my practicums, and I find that each one gets easier to transition to, the essays you write throughout the year start to form their own visual examples and you finally get to experience what your lecturers talk about all year.
It’s definitely hard going into a brand new place with no idea what to expect. The centres with rigid philosophies are eye-opening and can be challenging to adapt to, but at the same time the rewards and sense of achievement you feel is incredible.
The theory you learn doesn’t really add up until you see it in person: you hear it, feel it, live it in person. Things that sound simple on paper are a completely different thing in person. Which is why practicum is so important to me, it solidifies the way I want to be as a future teacher but also gives me real life examples that I can relate back to university and my own personal life.
If I were to sum up practicum in two words, they would be polar opposites to each other. Tiring and enlightening, it is at a pace that as a university student you’re not really used to and you’re not given much time to really adjust like you would in a full-time job. Yet, it is enlightening to see the children you meet progress, to see them begin to walk, talk and express themselves, there’s just nothing like it. In one day, you might see one child take their first steps, and another conquer their fear of jumping off the highest platform.
I learnt how to observe children and then plan from their emerging interests, creating experiences for them to enjoy, discover and learn. I developed a large amount of patience and understanding, something that I honestly don’t think would happened in any other career, at least not at the speed that it did in early childhood.
Practicum is tough, there is no denying it, but it’s an extraordinary experience that is setting you up for your future as an early childhood educator and I have loved (almost) every minute of it.
Holly Preece-Honeysett is enrolled in the Bachelor of Education (Teaching) Early Childhood Education programme at the Faculty of Education and Social Work. She is also the president of the Education and Social Work Student Association.
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