Well my journey began when I was in 6th year and it was C.A.O time. I had decided I would rather do a P.L.C course so I had to speak to my career guidance counsellor. She gave me a list of college websites to check out. I must admit that the most impressive website was for The College of Progressive Education, www.progressivecollege.ie. The website was very informative and was easy to access and browse through. It had all the different courses on it. I downloaded an application form for the fulltime FETAC Level 5 childcare course and sent it off.
From then I had an interview with the college coordinator who could not have been any friendlier or more helpful. As I was quite nervous going for an interview for college, her warm, down-to-earth nature was really appreciated, and I got a good feeling about this college right from the interview. I received a few letters from the college and before I knew it, it was October and my first day arrived. If I am to be honest I was petrified going in on my own for the first time. This feeling soon faded when I walked into my classroom. I was greeted by 10 other scared faces and that made me feel better knowing I wasn’t the only one.
My class was full of different nationalities, cultures and ages, and it was amazing. Within my first week of college my class was introduced to the principal, the college coordinator and all the tutors. By the end of my first week I knew I was going to love college life. The fulltime course was one week in college and one week in work placement, so the weeks flew by and soon became months and then an academic year. In total I completed 8 modules, each one as interesting and important as the next. Doing a fulltime course appealed to me as there is more contact with tutors and the coordinator if I ever needed help or if I was stressed.
I had one tutor for 4 modules (Caring for Children, Child Development, Communications and Early Childhood Education). She was so enthusiastic and you could tell she loved her job and wanted to be there. This made me want to be there and show up for class. She related everything to situations in her life and explained things so simply that her classes were stress-free and fun to attend. These modules contained a lot of work and took up the most time, but they were fun to learn about and I really enjoyed them all. I enjoyed especially Early Childhood Education, as we got to make play dough!
I had another tutor for 2 modules (Working in Childcare and Work Experience). This woman was so caring and concerned for our welfare, was so aware we had other modules and lots of work and was very understanding so any free time she could find she would try to use it to help us. These modules were really important to the week that I was in placement. I was given assignments that have to be completed in relation to parents etc. which boosted my confidence a lot and now I can talk to parents in a confident manner.
I was pleased to find out that the college coordinator was our tutor for Arts and Crafts. This class was fun and relaxing. The tutor was helpful and so talented and really enjoyed teaching this class and when I saw her passion it seemed to awaken some in me.
Something that really appealed to me when I chose this course was that there was an extra qualification to be achieved, a FETAC Level 5 in Special Needs. This class was full of so much information that was so useful and by the end of it you are qualified to be a Special Needs Assistant. This to me is very important as you’re helping a child who needs that extra bit of support, and in my opinion this is very fulfilling. My favourite bit of this course was the project. I did mine on Down’s syndrome and I loved researching this condition.
All of the modules were very enjoyable but as it is a fulltime course and is only one year long there was so much work to do and assignments to hand in and I was just as glad as everyone else when the last assignment was handed in, but with the help of all the tutors and all the time they put in with you, it’s not as stressful as it may seem. The class was so small with only 11 of us, so we got a lot of one-on-one help. I cannot learn when being lectured to, so to my delight each tutor felt that discussions in large and small groups were the best way to teach. This as much better and made it a relaxed atmosphere, and gave us different people’s view and interpretations. We went on a class trip to Imaginosity in Sandyford which was a wonderful experience. At Christmas we also had a big Christmas dinner with all the fulltime courses which was nice as we all got introduced to each other.
By the end of my course had made 10 new friends that I hope to keep for life. They were from all different parts of the world, China, India and the Philippines to name but a few! This was brilliant as I got to learn about the different laws and regulations dealing with children in their countries, and got to taste a lot of different foods too! I feel that not only did I come out with a FETAC Level 5 qualification, and a Level 5 Special Needs Assistant certificate, I also came out a more confident, more understanding person. Form doing my work experience I am now working as a childcare practitioner in a crèche and love every minute of it, and have all my qualifications. So if you’re looking for a college that will give you lots of support, encouragement and by the end you’ll come away with a recognised qualification and friends, then The College of Progressive Education is the place to go.
Anna Finlay full time FETAC level 5 childcare award learner 2007-2008