YMCA Child CareMeet a Y Educator

Meet a Y educator: Tatiana

30 November 2023 - by Tia Chung

Educators are at the heart of every YMCA Child Care centre. They not only care for children, but they also invest time in building genuine relationships with them. This makes Y Child Care centres a place where children feel comfortable and look forward to coming. 

With excellent relationship-building, Y educators support children in play to develop critical thinking and social skills, language and literacy skills, and science and mathematics skills. Educators take an individualized and holistic approach to growth. 

Play-based learning, the concept that children learn best through play, makes things even more exciting. Play comes naturally to children — it’s how they explore, discover, and learn. Educators are first and foremost play partners. They engage in, support, and enhance play—the interests of the child guide educators’ work. 

Y educators know the value of play-based learning. They are guided by the Y’s evidence-based curriculum — YMCA Playing to Learn™ — and receive extensive, ongoing professional development. As you read on, you will learn about the program planning and intention behind each setup in a classroom and get to see it through the eyes of a Y educator, Tatiana.

Meet Tatiana

Tatiana is a Registered Early Childhood Educator (RECE) who works with preschoolers at a YMCA Child Care centre in Dufferin. She began her journey in this field as a YMCA Early Childhood Assistant in its apprenticeship program. Since earning her bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education three years ago, Tatiana has been working as a RECE.

Her passion for working with children fuels her professional growth and development. As a Y educator, Tatiana strives to provide all children with a safe, nurturing, and inclusive environment. She excels at coordinating classes and implementing strategies that allow children to succeed. Tatiana answered questions about her life as a YMCA RECE. From her favourite beverage to advice for new educators, check out this rapid-fire Q&A.  

Explore a spooky and fall-inspired classroom 🍁

Calm, warm tones with neutral colours create a tranquil environment for children in all YMCA Child Care classrooms. But that doesn’t stop educators from unleashing creativity to make their classrooms unique. Tatiana’s love of early childhood education is evident in the care and thought she puts into tailoring her classroom’s setups to her students’ interests. Take a look. 

Three fall-themed setups in Tatiana’s classroom 🎃

All Y Child Care classroom activities stem from the children’s interests. For example, they might like pumpkins, colourful leaves, and apple picking during the fall. Educators like Tatiana are tuned into children’s interests through documentation to reflect and implement weekly activities tailored to the children’s interests.  

1. Haunted mansion: Dramatic area 👻

What you may see: A fun classroom area filled with fall-themed décor. 

What Tatiana saw: “While playing music for the children, a child asked if I could play Ghostbusters. The other children became extremely excited when the song began playing and began acting like Ghostbusters. After observing the children’s reaction to the song, I decided to create the haunted house Ghostbuster’s activity. This implementation drives to strengthen the children’s peer group entry and dramatic play representation skills by encouraging the children to engage in dramatic play with plots and imaginative features.” 

2. Shining a light on letters 🔎

What you may see: Magnifying glasses and letters on a light table. 

What Tatiana saw: "A child observed that their name started with the letter B; the same child then observed that a peer’s name had a little B in it. This observation sparked the conversation about uppercase and lowercase letters. To better explain this dynamic to the children, I created the letters of the alphabet activity to enhance the children’s ability to recognize and pair the upper and lowercase letters of the alphabet while creating connections with one another that stems from their individual connections to the letters; for example, having their names start with the same letters.” 

3. Collecting fall leaves 🍂

What you may see: Leaves and acorns on a faux grass carpet. 

What Tatiana saw: “Since fall has started, one of the children’s favourite things to do is rush over to the window and watch as our landscaping company cleans up the leaves and wood chips from our yard. This observation drove the concept of the collecting the leaves activity. The activity encourages the children to draw connections from their own observations and add them to their play, enhance their communication skills through dictating ideas and stories within their play while simultaneously strengthening their gross and fine motor skills.” 

Y educators truly understand the difference play-based learning can make in a child’s development. As play partners, Y educators observe children’s interests and develop activities that involve play. After all, play is what children naturally do. And for educators like Tatiana, being a part of a child’s growth and development by being a play partner is not just a career, but a life’s calling.


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