khadija - ECSEarly Childhood Studies

Placements are an important part of your experience helping you to gain insight into the variety of employment opportunities open to you at the end of your course, as well as developing those all-important skills required by employers. You might feel excited but also wonder what it’s really like so you might be interested to hear from a student currently studying the Early Childhood Studies degree who has shared their experience.

Khadija's experience

What is your favourite placement memory?

My favourite placement memory has got to be in a primary school which was a placement I was able to choose during my second year. I chose the setting due to the ethos it presented on their school website and the way in which they incorporated creativity within the children’s learning.

What is the funniest thing that happened on your placement?

The funniest thing that I encountered was when I participated with the staff and children during ‘Sports Day’. It bought back memories of when I was doing this at a young age in Primary. It was funny as the staff, including myself, participated in the activities alongside the children! So it was funny but also a memorable experience as we were working together in a team to ensure the children also experienced an event to remember!

Have you ever cried on placement (for good or bad)?

I would say that I did get emotional in a good way to leave the setting once I was coming to the end of my placement block. This was due to the amount of support I received from what Hayes et al (2014) refer to as a ‘Community of Practitioners’. They ensured that I achieved the best experiences by understanding what I wanted to get out from placement through my written action points and pushing me further in doing activities and carrying out group sessions, such as phonics sessions, independently.

What was your biggest challenge on placement?

My biggest challenge on placement was using my initiative and getting out of my comfort zone so that I enjoyed it more and made the most of it while I was there. This is because I knew that I wanted to become an Early Years teacher so getting out my comfort zone would enable me to identify the importance of the early years foundation stage (EYFS) and having an effective provision in place to meet children’s holistic needs.

What did you expect before you went on placement?

I expected that the support from the practitioners would be there for me throughout my placement experience. Alongside this, I expected staff to support me further my giving their opinions and views on various approaches to learning.

What did you learn about yourself on placement? 

I learnt that I was able to become more self-aware due to reflecting on action. This came about from my placement handbook which was provided by my lecturers on the course. I used this to think about my placement experience and how I could further improve by reflecting and making action points.

Did you feel prepared for placement? 

 I felt prepared for placement due to the support received from my lecturers. We were able to attend a pre-visit before commencing placement so that we could identify what we would be doing and feel more prepared.  

How were you supported on placement? 

I was supported a lot on placement due. I asked for assistance whenever needed and always questioned the ways I wanted to carry out an activity. Staff were always approachable and supported me throughout my block placement by giving me ideas and tips of things I could implement. They also encouraged and empowered me to do activities independently with children. I felt that the support given to me while on placement was beneficial as it enabled me to feel as part of a team.  

How have your experiences on placement changed you? 

I have a different perspective on how to support children from as young as three to five. This has come about from the changes the placement setting has to consider to ensure that they are meeting the development and learning of individual children. The learning environments children are in are of vital importance to ensure they get the best out of the learning. I understand how practitioners have to change the ways they engage children’s learning, such as always reflecting and then planning and updating the provision of children’s learning as a result. So my placement experience has given me a clear foundation of what is required of me and the constant awareness needed while working with young children within the Early Years.

Did you build any special relationships on placement?

I was able to build special relationships with the Early Years staff and this enabled me to get involved in staff activities after teaching hours such as meetings with the manager and deputy managers of the setting. Alongside this, I took part in informal staff meetings where the Early Years team would discuss the planning for the next day or the week ahead. I was also given the opportunity to support across the year groups, including Year 3, 5 and 6 trips as well as classroom support.