Working full time within the childcare sector can be stressful but the rewards we reap from having the privilege of scaffolding the young children within our care to becoming confident young people makes the stressful and hardworking times, worth it. So what happens when you add studying a part-time degree in Early Childcare and Education on top of that? Does the job and part time study become too much? Can you successfully manage your centre both staff, facilities and most importantly the welfare and care of the children while meeting assignment deadlines and attending evening classes?

One would think that it is simply impossible to do both. Childcare is no longer just a job, it is a professional career where having a degree can open doors to countless opportunities.  In recent years, the focus on improving the quality of childcare provided in all settings has stemmed from the upskilling of core practitioners as they apply their learning in their day to day work.  As a result, the role and contribution of Early Years Educators is becoming increasingly valued by education and government agencies and more importantly by parents and the wider general public. It is the understanding of all those within the childcare sector that the Early Years Care and Education is continuously changing and redeveloping. Therefore, those of us on the frontline, working with children and managing centres must be knowledgeable in this rapidly changing sector and  the wealth of knowledge obtained from engaging in a part-time degree is second to none. This newly obtained knowledge can then be applied to practise during studying. Thus, ensuring you are providing both parents and children with the highest quality of care possible.

With all this said, Tigers Childcare recognises this and as a result offers their staff opportunities to return to college in order to gain new knowledge and skills. One such opportunity to offered to staff is to return to college where staff can complete a part-time course in Early Childcare and Education during evenings and weekends. It is true, the knowledge gained is invaluable and the ability to place this knowledge into practice almost immediately is of such benefit. But where does the balance lie between managing staff, caring for children, attending classes and completing assignments? Lets be honest it is not easy and at the beginning it can become very overwhelming. However, through massive support from college lectures and careful planning of time in the evening times it is 100% achievable. It soon becomes part of the daily routines of life to the point where during the summer you wonder, ‘What did I ever do with all this spare time pre-studying days?’

As a centre manager all this newly obtained knowledge is even more beneficial when training in new staff members. These new staff members are potentially only coming in to the Early Years Sector straight out of QQI level 5 and 6 courses. This provides an opportunity as a Centre Manager to aid in the process of shaping these new Early Years Educators in to well rounded confident Early Years Educators.

So for anyone contemplating studying a degree part-time while working full-time and are in the limbo of, ‘is it worth it?’ it certainly is. Knowledge is a man’s greatest wealth!

“Education breeds confidence. Confidence breeds hope. Hope breeds peace.” – Confucius.

~Author: Niamh Coughlan~

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