Published on February 19, 2017 | by Haafizah Khaderoo Photography by Haafizah Khaderoo0
Early childhood studies: It’s more than just daycare
Does an early childhood degree lead to a career in daycare?
There is a common misconception among some students and adults that early childhood can only lead to daycare related opportunities. But it is much more than that.
“Most students that come into the program often say they want to become a teacher and there are some that say they want to do childcare. Likely these students are taught that those are the only things they can do,” said Jenni Mastroianni.
Mastroianni is a field placement coordinator for the early childhood studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber. Her role as a placement coordinator is to support students through experiences to see what their career paths might be.
Mastroianni said that some individuals should take the time to do the research about early childhood because there are many opportunities and some that does not involve childcare. She also says that she tries to emphasize the different aspects of the program to educate both parents and students.
“They do an early learning setting which is working with infants and toddlers in a childcare setting, they have opportunity to do schools and drop in programs where they work with parents and children. Also there are specialized settings like occupational therapy,” said Mastroianni.
Ilham Alam is the career services coordinator for the early childhood studies program at Guelph-Humber. She said an early childhood degree is very flexible when it comes to career paths.
“There are many careers to choose from as the field is rapidly changing, there is working with children with autism that is an intensive behavioural intervention therapist and music, speech and play therapists,” said Alam.
Alam also mentioned that not everyone with an early childhood degree has to work with children. “Another career path is working with government or quality assurance looking at different childcare facilities,” she said.
“Careers in child life is very popular and can increase over the years. McMaster University has the only child life masters program in Canada. It is a career that allows you to work in a hospital setting who is the emotional and social support for children and families during challenging medical situations,” said Alam.
Faiza Ali is a third-year early childhood studies student at Guelph-Humber.
Ali said that when she started the program she was interested in becoming a kindergarten teacher. But soon after she got a taste of the fieldwork, her goals of becoming a teacher started to change.
“During one of the fall open houses, my program head Nikki Martyn did a presentation about how vast the careers are. Then one of the alumni talked about how she was a child life specialist at Sick Kids and I found that to be cool,” said Ali.
After hearing about child life, Ali started to do some research. “I went into a completely new direction,” she said.
Ali said that child life is an important job because you are there for families and children while creating an understanding of what is going on. “If a 3-year-old has cancer, it’s how you will explain to that 3-year-old in their language what chemo therapy is and what’s going to happen,” she said.
Ali has been in a special needs placement at the Nanny Angel Network. Which is a registered charity to provide a free in-home childcare support system for mothers who have been diagnosed with cancer.
“I would babysit the mother’s children while she takes the time to go to her chemotherapy appointments,” said Ali.
Ali is currently placed at Heart House Hospice, which is an end-of-life support system for terminally ill patients and their families. She is currently gaining experiences that reflect the path of becoming a child life specialist.