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Connections are key in childcare

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Northern Lights College’s own Patti McDougall has been recognized for her work in early childhood education. 

An instructor for the Early Childhood Education (ECE) program at NLC, Patti recently received a Certificate of Achievement from the Prime Minister’s Awards for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. She is one of four recipients from BC. 

“It’s so awesome,” she says. “I was so happy to hear I got it.” 

Patti has been with NLC for six years and owns Miss Patti’s Preschool here in Dawson Creek. Last year she decided to step back from running the preschool in order to focus on teaching the next and future generations of early childhood educators.  

Her approach to ECE is creating an inclusive environment and understanding that each child learns at their own pace. She noted that the ultimate question from her students is how to get kids to listen, and the answer is always ‘connection.’  

“If you don’t build that relationship and that connection [with the child] you can’t get anywhere,” Patti says. “You can like children until you’re blue in the face but if they don’t like you, you’re stuck.” 

The best way to build that connection is to be at their level, which often means sitting on the floor with them and engaging in parallel play. Patti doesn’t want her students to be “sitters” or “plunkers”— teachers that just stand at the front of the room or lean against a desk and watch the children play.  

“That’s babysitting,” she says. “We are not babysitters, we don’t go to school for two years to be babysitters . . . we get down on the floor and use every opportunity for learning, but on their terms.” 

Students in the ECE program get first-hand experience with this teaching model and use it in real-world situations during their practicums.  

“Our goal is to help them get into the school system and be successful,” Patti says. “We want to expose them to learning and leave them with a positive [experience].” 

Want to know more about the Early Childhood Education Program?
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