My Experience of being an Early Childhood Student by Ciara Finnegan

It wasn’t my intention when I was doing the leaving cert that I would go on to do early childhood in IT Sligo. My family and friends had always told me I had a flare with children and so I decided to pursue early childhood in the Institute of Technology, Sligo.

To my surprise the modules involved were a lot more in-depth and complex than I expected. Some of the modules were quite serious such as caring for children, child psychology and politics and policy. Others were a bit lighter hearted such as creative practise and outdoor play. My first year in the early childhood course really opened my eyes to the poor attitudes people have towards early childhood practitioners.

My second year was definitely a step up in terms of academic work and areas of studies. The modules were more crucial and they included law, inclusive practise and child psychology. They were also harder emotionally as we learned more about the struggles children face in the sector and at home. It was also the year we got our first taste of being in the workforce as we had a 13 week, 400 hour placement to complete in semester 2 in a childcare setting. It was a great experience as I really got to put the theory I learned into practice and I felt truly apart of the team as I was asked my opinion on a daily basis.

Third year was once again another huge step up in terms of academic work and it was a struggle to get back into the academic mind frame after placement. We were once again introduced to tougher modules such as welfare & protection, European social policy analysis and Reggio Emilia. The welfare & protection was very tough both emotionally and mentally. We were assigned a lot of case studies to read and discuss which I found difficult but helpful.

I am currently on my third year placement here in Longford County Childcare Committee and I am enjoying it very much as I’m seeing the different roles that are available after my degree. It’s also interesting seeing the type on enquires the Childcare Committee gets.

I absolutely love the course I am in and I do want to stay in the childcare sector but I am unsure of what area within the sector I want to work in. The majority of my year group are planning on going on to do teaching. Some used the course as a different route into teaching and others want to leave the childcare sector due to the poor wage and lack of recognition. I hope that in the future Ireland will hold childcare providers in as high of regard as the Scandinavian countries do. Although this is a negative, there is plenty more positives for staying in the sector for me as I love doing arts and crafts and working in a team. I really enjoy the idea of seeing children growing up right in front of my eyes. I myself will decide in the coming months what I want to do in my future career and hope that there will be changes in the future.