How YMCA Early Childhood Educators Inspire Kids to Learn

Ashley Sheehan

How Ashley Sheehan Teaches Respect and Independance Through Play

With a background in elementary education, Ashley began her Y Story as a Support Worker in one of the After School Programs, and eventually found her perfect fit as an Early Childhood Educator (ECE).

Early one Tuesday morning, in the busy 3-4 year old room at the YMCA Early Learning Centre, Ashley’s passion for her work is obvious as she captures the attention of a few children while teaching them about nutrition through play.

She thinks it’s important to encourage independence and autonomy, and feels pride when she notices a child successfully zipper their coat or pour a glass of milk without asking for help.

She also brings her own values of compassion and respect in all of her teaching, especially in nature. Using an insect as an example, Ashley teaches the children about respect for other people and things. She reminds the children that when they are outside, they are also in the insect’s home, and that it is important to be kind to the insects. Her lessons create a ripple effect as she sees the kids passing on to their friends what they have learned about respect.

She feels proud when a parent tells her that their child is continuing to learn at home, showing their parents everything they have learned, such as folding a blanket, or identifying the letters on a road sign.

Ashley sees great value in the national YMCA Playing to Learn curriculum offered alongside the provincial curriculum at the Y. She explains how play allows children to use their creativity and imagination to learn.

“They practice their language skills, act out their personal experiences through dramatic play, build castles out of logs, or develop courage as they leap into a pile of leaves. Play allows children to develop necessary life skills that will provide a solid educational foundation for their school years.”


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