What’s it really like to be a working parent returning to study? We spoke to Wellington-based Abby, a mum of two sons and a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Teaching (ECE) programme at Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand.
ABBY, CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY TO STUDYING EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION?
ABBY: Even as a child, I loved helping others, and I’ve always been interested in working with children. I nannied for a long time, and that solidified my desire to become a kaiako (teacher), and helped me to realise what a positive impact I could have on young people’s lives. I had this urge to learn more, and to really understand how the brain develops, and the impact holistic education has on our children.
AND WHAT BROUGHT YOU TO TE RITO MAIOHA?
ABBY: When I decided to study for a Bachelor of Teaching (ECE), I knew that I wanted to do it properly, and there were a couple of things that were very important to me. I’m very passionate about te ao Māori, and Te Rito Maioha has a massive and authentic focus on biculturalism. It’s embedded in their ethos and practice. The other aspect I was looking for was the fact I could be a working parent and study full-time, and have support from the education provider to do this.
HOW DID YOU FIND IT, TO BE WORKING, PARENTING, AND STUDYING?
ABBY: With Te Rito Maioha, I was able to work four days a week, study full-time, and still parent my children. I started the Bachelor of Teaching when I had only one child – Freddie, who is now 13 – and became pregnant with Thomas, who is now 6, at the beginning of the programme. Honestly, it was hard to balance everything. But I really, really wanted to do this, and I think it’s important to show my children that I’m constantly learning, and that it’s okay to want to go back to school later in life, and follow my dream of becoming a kaiako.
HOW DID TE RITO MAIOHA SUPPORT YOU?
ABBY: What shone through was the authentic nature of the kaiako, and the way they knew me so personally, and put in place the support I needed to make studying work for me – they really cared for me. When I had a difficult pregnancy, and my baby was born and needed to spend extra time in hospital, the kaiako were constantly communicating with me, checking in with me, and showing they were invested in me. Also, the programme gave me flexibility to take time off with my baby, and come back when I was ready.
WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST VALUABLE ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH TE RITO MAIOHA?
ABBY: The best thing for me was the requirement to work 13 hours a week in an early childhood education centre as part of the study programme. Because I could implement that while I was learning, I graduated with three years of experience already under my belt, and I’ve learned how to authentically develop my teaching philosophy and feel confident in who I am, how I teach, and the impact I can have.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO OTHER PARENTS WHO MIGHT BE THINKING OF RETURNING TO STUDY WHILE LOOKING AFTER CHILDREN AND WORKING?
ABBY: It’s important to go into it with the right intentions. The education sector needs strong, passionate, hardworking kaiako. And it’s important to have support – to have whānau who believe in you and help you to believe in yourself. You can do this. I have two children, I worked four days a week, and I studied full-time. If I can do it, anyone can. I think sometimes it’s harder to make the decision to do this than it is to actually do it!
tots to teens feb-mar 2023
REASONS TO BECOME A TEACHER WITH TE RITO MAIOHA
- Bachelor of Teaching (ECE or Primary) – 3-year programme
- Graduate Diploma of Teaching (ECE or Primary) – 1-year programme if you already hold a degree
- Study part-time or full-time
- Study online and at 11 locations throughout NZ – fully funded online study options allow you to study where and when suits you
- Weekly field-based study in an ECE centre or primary school while studying – get hands-on experience while you study, and hit the workforce with an advantage
- New Zealand’s leading bicultural initial teacher education provider, with authentic comwmitment to Te Ao Maori
To find out more about studying with Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand, visit ecnz.ac.nz/study or ring 0800 244 532.