Interview with Caroline Rever

Name: Caroline Rever

City of Residence: Dawson City, YT

Occupation: Early Childhood Educator / Assistant Teacher Head Start

I often say I’m a PreSchool teacher because it’s more recognizable to educators in the school system.

How long have you been….an ECE?

Since 1991 – 26 years!  16 years with AHS.

What inspired you to become an ECE?

My love for children and my need to protect these little beings.  I thought I’d volunteer in a child care centre to start,  was offered a job the first day and have been working at Tr’inke Zho ever since…  I think it was my calling.  Children have always seemed to seek me out.

What keeps you here?

On the job training initially kept me here and the ability to continue my education.  Ultimately it’s the significant role I play in the lives of children’s emotional well-being, helping develop and preserve their self-worth.  I know that I’m one of the consistent people in their lives.

Settle the debate for us: Job or Profession?

Profession! The ECE program is a legitimate two year college course…

What does professionalism look like in the child care sector today?

I don’t know really – I think it’s all over the place. I do know that the education aspect of this sector is not consistent – what’s recognized as a diploma in one province or territory is not necessarily accepted as adequate in another province.  With the research and education around brain development and early development I think this has helped others to acknowledge us as “educators” not “just babysitters.”

What is needed for the future (wages, benefits, working conditions) to fulfill your professional role effectively? 

Universal child care – and more consistent wages that are reflective of the education.  Have diplomas recognized across the country.  Similar to a teaching degree – where in some provinces and territories there is specific additional training – such as the First Nation cultural component in the Yukon that is specific to our area. Someday, I would like to see the ECE program/daycares intergrated into the school system,  just like they did with kindergarten.  After all, ECE is the beginning stages of all human development…

What’s the most amazing story a child has told you?  

I can’t think of just one! There have been so many.  One of the things that stands out to me is when a child says “Do you remember yesterday when we went ice fishing and I was going to catch  fish” and the event occurred months before!  The child is so excited and needs to tell me the story right now as though it really did happen just yesterday!!!! I love to watch long term memory developing in the childen.

One of my three year olds was playing a “flying owl” game with me recently, and I told the child that it was time for the owl to go to sleep.  Child’s response (keep in mind she is only three) “Silly Caroline!” “It is night time for the owl and he cannot go to sleep because he is nocturnal, which means he stays up all night!”  Brilliant…Really, the children are my teachers…

How do you get your friends or family to support the importance of ECE?

Letting them know how important children are, that one day, if I’m in a wheelchair, I might be cared for by one of these kids, so they need to be treated fairly and with respect.  It’s also helping friends and parents to understand that some of the behavior that is frustrating them is typical child development.  For instance, when a child is about 2 years old, creating games to help then with clean up time just makes good sense!  Do it together, they are still soooooo young… Kids love it and we get the ‘job” done!  Power and control over a toddler/pre-schooler is a waste of frustration and time.

Who is your favourite ECE role model of all times?

Can I have 3? Katie Swales, you – Mo Caley-Verdonk & Anne Gedrose.  You all have made such a huge difference and really value the children.  The Validation cards you gave me make a huge difference in my day especially when I’m having a rough day, they remind me that I’m ok!

I wouldn’t change ________ for all the $$ in the 649!

When I hear a child say “I love you Caroline!

What’s the best experience you’ve ever had as an ECE?

Parents coming back with rave reviews!  “Thank goodness for you…my kid loves you….I couldn’t do it without you….You make my world easier.” It’s the acknowledgement that I’m making a difference.  They view me as a teacher, and that is important to me.

What’s your best tip or trick that you’ve used over the years—that new people wouldn’t know about?

Brain development… important this is to understanding what’s happening for children…what’s normal, and it helps make a difference in my expectations and level of frustration … for me and the children! It makes me smile when the toddler teacher finds out that biting is normal and thanks me for the advice as how to conquer the problem.  Also, letting teachers know that three to five minutes is all you can expect from a two year old (at one time) brings relief to their frustrations…

What’s your absolute favourite resource that you “keep in your back pocket”? 

Brain Development of course!  I learned things 15 years ago that I couldn’t say…then all of a sudden it seemed to click.  And I can pull this info out of my pocket & use it to help re-focus the children and it makes it seem so easy. A three year old has an attention span of approx. 5 to 10 mins. long, then they will move around, move on or just simply forget. So, having a circle that last a half hour or more will not work cognitively or physically for a young pre-schooler…Repetition, repetition, repetition is what will strengthen memory development for their brains.

What do you wish more Canadians knew about being an ECE?

More about Early Childhood Education and that it would be super beneficial for new parents to have this info on the developing child…the Intro to ECE.  It’s vital information for parents, Elementary School staff/teachers.  This is fundamental information and follows children throughout life.

Where is your favourite place to go & be with the kids?

Moosehide—without a doubt! They’re so free there and relaxed in their outdoor atmostphere on their own land… One question people have been asking me is, why I have been in Head Start so long, and I am starting to realize now that it is because this particular program is  “giving back” the language, traditions, self-identity and cultural pride that was taken away so brutally by the Residential School system.

What’s the best up close and personal encounter you’ve had with politicians or diplomats?

None…I’d love to though!  When I’m not at work and have the time to really have an in-depth conversation.  They keep telling us that children are a vital resource and hope for our future, but I do not see that coming into play.  It seems to be all about money, which is a complete contrast to what children are all about.  It would be great if ECE professionals had a seat within the federal government in Ottawa?

You’re talking with someone who is interested in becoming an ECE. No one is listening. What do you say? 

I would have them participate in the discussion by either asking me questions or having myself ask them questions such as: why do you want to be an ECE.  How did you find out about the profession of ECE…

When the work gets to you, where do you go to recharge?

Work-out, walk the dog or spend time with adults.

Money or genuine appreciation?

Well, ECE professionals are probably not in it for the money.  One, because teaching is not centered around money, and two, we don’t make a heck of a lot of money in this career, so money is not the incentive, but appreciation certainly keeps me going, and makes it worth it to follow through on the hard days.

You’ve just won a huge jackpot of 50 million and you have 24 hours to spend it in the ECE profession. What do you do?

Build my own ECE center of course!  Not just any old center either, but one that has options; i.e. ECE diploma available and free of charge!  Parent input…

Finally, what does “it takes a village to raise a child” mean to you personally?

To me it means working together with the experiences and knowledge from parents, co-workers, teachers and community citizens to ensure that our children have the opportunity to become whatever they long to be as has healthy and happy adults.