How one ECEC educator has used her love of intentional spaces to inspire others
When Sienna Craig first began studying her Diploma of Early Childhood with Amazing Education & Training she was drawn to the sector, in part, because of the opportunities early childhood education and care (ECEC) have to influence the lives of young children, and help each individual to be the best they can be.
“Each child is unique,” she said, noting that “even tiny babies have their own personalities and the more you understand about each child, the more that relationship grows. Once you have that relationship and an understanding of the children’s individual interests, then you can form a program that caters to their developmental needs. This is my favourite part.”
Drawn to the sector for the opportunity to create and nurture relationships with children and families, Sienna’s current role, as a lead educator at Currumbin Pines Early Learning Centre on Queensland’s Gold Coast, offers her opportunities to give back, and to inspire others by sharing the creative spaces she creates for the children in her care with other educators.
Wanting a space to coralle all the photographs of the intentional learning spaces she creates for children, Sienna began the invitation.to.play instagram account three months ago, quickly attracting over 2,000 followers, a number which is growing daily, something Sienna said she never expected.
“It started as a way for me to keep photos of my set-ups in one place and has turned into a new way I find passion in this sector,” she said.
“I love creating inviting spaces children can explore, investigate and experiment with – with as much independence and autonomy as possible. The best learning spaces are initiated from the children and their interests.”
Being able to explore and be creative is an unexpected benefit of working with children for Sienna, and she encouraged others who were on the fence about studying ECEC to view it as an opportunity to be creative.
“Try volunteering at a childcare centre to see if it’s something you could love. It’s not for everyone and it’s certainly not all fun all the time, but if you find that you are passionate about it and have the patience and energy to work with a small army of big personalities, then a career in early education could be for you.”
While having patience, passion and creativity are all things which can help educators in their journey, Sienna said it’s also a great opportunity to learn about diversity, and working as a team to nurture the unique skills, qualities and attributes that each individual brings to their work.
Organisational skills, time management and adaptability are equally as important as having a creative streak, and where one team member is lacking, another can step in.
“It’s important to remember you are part of a team and that we educators don’t have to be everything at once. This has taken me a long time to learn and it’s still something I’m working on,” Sienna said.
Her experience as a lead educator has motivated her to undertake further studies to gain her Bachelor of Early Childhood and Primary Education, something she says she never would have considered without the confidence of her Diploma studies behind her.
As she continues her studies, Sienna will share her spaces with others, promoting a love of nature and play based learning, and welcoming contributions from others.
“I now have people sending me pictures of their own recreations of my work and asking for ideas and advice on how they can create similar provocations,” Sienna says, demonstrating that teams don’t need to be physically close in order to inspire one another.
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