Saaiqa Bhanji: Educator, leader, mentor

Year: 2019 — Province: British Columbia
Certificate of Achievement Recipient

Saaiqa Bhanji

Simon Fraser University Childcare Society
Child care centre for children 3 to 5 years
Burnaby, British Columbia

"[Our daughter] blossomed into a wonderful, caring, thoughtful, inquisitive and active child while at [the centre]. I am so thankful to Saaiqa because I know without hesitation that our little girl's spirit was very much a product of what she learned and experienced under Saaiqa's care."
— Parent

Saaiqa Bhanji began her early child education journey as a practicum student at the centre where she now teaches. Since then, her growth as both an educator and leader has been remarkable. Today, she is a senior educator in one of the centre's 3- to 5-year-old programs and is a mentor for the others.

Philosophy of care

Saaiqa uses children's unique strengths to help them become confident, excited and active citizens. She draws from history, theory, the provincial early learning framework, global perspectives, and her and her colleagues' experiences to guide her ideals of what childhood should be.

Support of child development

  • Pushes past preconceived notions about what children can do: a three-year exploration of beauty is following children's notions of beauty and how they impact their lives, thoughts and ideas.
  • Engages and learns with children in research projects such as animal and insect explorations, dance, forestry, and composting, recycling, paper use and landfill waste, asking ethical questions to help children think about new ways of being within their environment.
  • Acknowledges and invites children's input every day: when she asked the children how they wanted to celebrate their birthdays, they decided that—rather than cake—they would like to choose a special activity and to have their classmates create a card/drawing for them.

Involvement with parents, families and the community

  • Works with educators and children to tend a plot at the local community garden; Saaiqa engaged community members so they would be comfortable having children there—they now welcome them—and taught the children how to "be" when they were in the garden.
  • Sends individual learning stories home for families to read—snapshots of moments Saaiqa has observed and captured so parents can be part of them, too; their reaction has been overwhelmingly positive and full of gratitude.
  • Develops meaningful relationships with members of the university and surrounding community, so children have familiar, safe and interesting places to learn and play—including animal care services and a museum—and, in turn, have a positive impact on the community.

Get in touch!

Simon Fraser University Childcare Society
8888 University Drive
Burnaby BC V5A 1S6

Facebook: @sfuchildcare

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