Leigh Munro has always loved working with children, so studying Early Childhood Education (ECE) was a natural path for her.
The mum of three from Levin had previously worked in in-home childcare and was looking to upskill and take her career further.
“I’ve always known I wanted a career working with children but wasn’t sure whether it would eventually be in ECE or social work. I saw that UCOL Horowhenua was doing ECE courses and I liked that I could go there and study in a class instead of online. That personalized support appealed to me.”
“I’ve had anxiety, so studying somewhere with big classes scared me a little. When I found out that UCOL had smaller classes, I thought that would be prefect.”
Leigh completed the
NZ Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 3) in the first half of 2020 before moving onto the
Level 4 programme.
During the Level 4 programme, Leigh did a practicum at Levin Baptist Kindergarten. Wanting to eventually teach three and four-year-olds, Leigh relished the opportunity.
“I loved it at Levin Baptist Kindergarten. The kids were amazing, my mentor was amazing, and all of the teachers were amazing as well!”
“Being on practicum with the kids is the best part of studying ECE for me. Every day is different and you never know what you’re going to get. I’ve had kids arguing about who gets to sit with me, I’ve been given random presents from stones to popsicle sticks. It’s just awesome.”
The experience not only allowed Leigh to put her classroom learning into practice, but also gave her more insight into children’s behaviour and techniques for managing it.
Inside the UCOL classroom, Leigh says her lecturer Melissa Lepper has been a huge support.
“Melissa is amazing. She calms me down when I overthink and encourages me. The way she teaches makes things easy to understand.”
Being based at UCOL Horowhenua, Leigh really appreciates how members of UCOL Manawatū’s Student Success team regularly visit the students to provide services like counselling and learning support. Leigh was also able to borrow a free ChromeBook for the semester thanks to the Technology Access Fund for Learners, which made a world of a difference with her studies.
As well as preparing her for a career, Leigh says studying ECE has given her some useful tools for parenting.
“The courses have really helped me with my personal life as well. Learning about the different attachment types has really helped with my own kids.”
Going forward, Leigh is excited to study the
New Zealand Diploma in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 5) at UCOL in 2021 and then continue her studies so she can become a registered teacher.
“I just love helping people and seeing people happy. Being on practicum has shown me that this is definitely where I want to be because I can help children learn right from wrong and I can help them grow into competent learners. Just seeing the smiles on their faces makes it worth it.”