Early Childhood Education certificate makes a difference

Posted on 2 November 2020

TonioicWhen AyeJaye  Melei  decided to study early childhood education with her mum, she had no idea how it would change their mother- daughter relationship, or her relationship with her own daughter. 

“I had been doing law papers and decided to do the certificate with my mum, because I had taken a break from study to look after my kids,” AyeJaye explains.

A cohort of students completed the Open Polytechnic’s level 3 National Certificate in ECE and graduated in October.

The programme of study was supported by He Whānau Manaaki oTararua Free Kindergarten Association (previously Wellington Kindergarten Association), included tutor- led classes and had a large number of students from the Pacific community attending

Usually taught completely by distance learning, this particular programme was part of a government initiative to encourage the participation of Pasifika and other communities (including refugees) who haven’t been actively involved in any form of early childhood education

AyeJaye and her mum, Jacinta Sianava, were two of these students, who say that in addition to empowering them to become Home Based Educators, completing the certificate has given them a deeper understanding of child development.

Jacinta, who is a foster parent, says she wanted to do the certificate to help her in this role.

“I love kids. When mine grew up, I decided to be a foster parent. Doing the certificate has helped me as a foster parent, in terms of how to get the kids more actively involved with their studies. The children I look after have had very different experiences. A lot of what I learnt while doing the certificate has been helpful in looking after them.” 

AyeJaye says that she enjoyed the flexibility of the programme and found all the content relevant to her as a new mum.

“I only have two kids and studying for the certificate, I learnt a lot about the easiest and simplest ways to parent, I apply what I learnt to my kids,” says AyeJaye.

For Jacinta, the experience was new to her but helpful and she was glad she could fit in her studies around her other responsibilities and a busy household.

“My experience is very different. I raised my kids back in the islands. Going through the course opened my eyes to a whole different level of a child’s education.  It opened my eyes to a whole different level of caring for children,” she explains.

“While we were doing the course, the tutor would describe behaviour that we had seen with my granddaughter. AyeJaye and I would look at each other and think the tutor was so right! It has helped me with the children. I understand them more. It can’t help me with my own children, because they have all grown up now, but I feel like I can share what I have learnt with them, to help them with their children.” 

With a busy household, Jacinta found time to study late at night, once the children were in bed, sometimes only finding time to study after 10pm in the evenings.

“The Open Polytechnic course materials were so important and we referred back to it when we were studying and applying what we had learned from the tutor. All the information we needed was there,” Jacinta says, adding that she would like to work towards a higher qualification in early childhood education. 

“When I finished the certificate, I thought, if I can achieve that, I can achieve more. It isn’t going to be easy but I am sure I can do it.”

Both AyeJaye and Jacinta agree that anyone can achieve with study.

“I would say just go for it. I would say to anyone who is scared to try that I was in that position too. I was scared but now I have finished it! We are grateful that we were able to complete the certificate together. ”