YMCA Child CareYMCA Employment Programs

5 must-know tips for ECE students completing their placement

07 June 2024 - by YMCA of Greater Toronto

With updates from Tia Morrison on June 7, 2024

As an Early Childhood Education (ECE) student completing your placement at the YMCA of Greater Toronto — we support over 500 placements each year and work with 10 schools — you play an important role in our classrooms. We appreciate your unique talents and passion for working with children and want you to have the tools and resources you need to have a wonderful and meaningful experience.

With that in mind, here are five tips to help you bring your A game during your ECE student placement.

Tip #1: Think like an ECE

Be proactive! Instead of waiting to be told what to do, take the initiative to read the program plan and come up with your own ideas for games and activities.

An educator in a black YMCA T-shirt smiles brightly while rolling pizza dough during a pizza-making activity with children in a YMCA child care classroom.

Take your team educator’s lead and anticipate the support they may need during play experiences and transitions. Embrace leadership opportunities and the chance to bring your ideas to life with the group. Have fun!

Tip #2: Don’t be a giant

Get down to the children’s level when you’re playing. This makes you more approachable, helps you understand their needs and interests, and fosters a supportive and engaging play environment.

An educator in a grey sweater engages with an elephant puppet while interacting with a young child wearing a toy stethoscope around their neck in a dramatic play area themed after an urgent care centre.

Tip #3: Build genuine relationships

Make sure children and families know who you are. Families will appreciate that you took the time to introduce yourself to them. After all, they are leaving their child with you!

An educator in a grey jean jacket with short ombre hair reads a picture book titled "Bilaal Cooks Daal" with a child wearing a pink long-sleeve shirt who points to a photo in the book.

Get to know your centre’s team and build rapport with them; you’ll quickly feel like part of the team. Introducing yourself to the children, families, and the team is the first step towards building genuine relationships.

Tip #4: Set and share your placement goals

Read your evaluation materials before your placement to understand what is expected, and ask questions if you have any doubts. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarification. Share your placement goals with your placement mentor and the educators on your team as soon as possible. By presenting your goals, they’ll see you are taking charge of your learning. Continue communicating with the classroom educators, including discussing your experiences so far. 

Three educators review a document while standing behind an activity cubby shelf in a YMCA child care classroom, holding pens.

Tip #5: Have fun and apply

This is your chance to lead and embrace fun, quality play experiences. Be imaginative, resourceful, and spontaneous, and always look for opportunities to spread the spirit of fun and education. Be a leader that all children can look up to. Nothing is better than seeing children’s eyes light up when you walk into the room!

An educator in a green sweater applauds with a smile while a child next to them, wearing a pink long-sleeved shirt, excitedly waves their hands in the air while playing with a vibrant activity cube toy.

Remember to apply to work at the YMCA at the end of your placement. You can apply to be a supply staff while completing your program or if you have graduated, ignite your Early Childhood Educator career at our Y!
The YMCA provides hundreds of student placements each year. If you are a post-secondary student interested in completing your placement at the YMCA in Child Care, EarlyON, or Before and After School programs, complete the application.


Visit ymcagta.org to find out more about our programs, services and charitable impact.


See the many ways to give to the Y and help build a brighter future.


Find child care programs that help children and families shine.


Stay healthy, active and connected at our health and fitness centres.


Explore camps and outdoor centres for fun, adventure, leadership, skills-building and more.


Get the job you want and brighten your career with help from Employment Services.


Settle in and light up your new life in the GTA with support from Immigrant Services.


Make new friends, hone new skills and find counselling at our Youth Programs.


Give back and shine on with rewarding YMCA Volunteer Opportunities.


Find out about our green initiatives and what we're doing to build resilience to climate change.


Light up learning at  YMCA Academy, a middle and high school for those who learn differently.