She genuinely has fun in her job and many of the children in her care spend 40 or more hours a week at preschool, so she really gets to know the families and the kids.

“It is pretty special watching them grow and knowing that you have been a positive influence on their life.”

Hazel studied through the University of Canterbury, where she earned a Bachelor of Teaching degree. After completing two years full-time, Hazel worked on her third year part-time by distance and also spent a few months working as an unqualified relief teacher in centres – gaining valuable experience which she says helped her get full time employment.  Now she is a preschool teacher who looks after the three-and-a-half to five-year age group.

“It is a good idea to spend some time in a centre volunteering or working as a reliever before enrolling in study. This way you will get a good feel for what you are getting into just to be sure this career path is right for you.”

As someone who has always loved children, the choice to become a teacher was easy for Hazel. With a small family of her own, it means she is able to work and not miss out on the early years with her own children – her daughter attends the same centre where Hazel works. While Hazel finds it extremely rewarding working with preschoolers, it was a little different to what she expected.

“I guess going into this profession, I assumed it would just be like large-scale babysitting, but in reality, it’s not even close to babysitting. There is so much more to being a teacher than that; you have to be able to explain why you do everything you do with the children and recognise the learning outcomes that have resulted from the experiences that you provide for the children. There is so much theory behind everything that you do.”

While each day holds new challenges, Hazel takes it all in her stride and also enjoys equipping herself daily with new skills to add to her abilities.

“I find that even small things, such as introducing Māori words and phrases, help make things interesting for the children and add to their learning experience. You also need to have great people skills, as a large part of being a preschool teacher is communicating with and working alongside parents on a daily basis.”

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