"Make All Children Feel Like They Belong:" Advice from an Early Childhood Education Professor

July 1, 2019

Meet Professor Peterken, an Early Childhood Education teacher from Australia! Professor Peterken has a passion for teaching kids and loves the use of arts in education. She teaches the early childhood integration methods course to students during practicum. She was willing to share with us what motivates her to teach and why she wanted to become a teacher.  


Professor Peterken became a registered teacher at the end of 1983 and started teaching as a media studies and art teacher in a small K-12 country school. She then taught in elementary schools for a few years before later returning to University to get qualified to teach Early Childhood. Since then, Professor Peterken continues to teach and participate in research studies here at BYU. 


When asked why she wanted to become a teacher, she informed us that she wanted to be a teacher for as long as she could remember. She explained, "when I was little, I would line up all the dolls in my bookcase and have my little brother do what I told him. My Aunt Rose was an early childhood teacher and a principle of a Junior high school and I often spent time with her. I was able to go to school with her when I was only four and I just loved it." Because of her experiences as a young girl, she said that she "really wanted to support other children to learn and to have great experiences at school." Continuing on she said "I could see that sometimes school wasn't a place children liked to be and I wanted to help make all children feel that they belong. I wanted them to feel involved and connected so that they could learn."  



"I wanted to help make all children feel that they belong. I wanted them to feel involved and connected so that they could learn."  




Professor Peterken describes the joy that comes from teaching when students make discoveries. She described her favorite part of teaching as the moment when she "can see that students experience something in a new way or they grasp a difficult concept. You can just see it in their body that they just get it! It's exciting to see that." Professor Peterkin is also very passionate about using arts in the classroom as a source of learning. She explains "I really like facilitating the use of the arts in new processes so that students can explore their learning." 


When asked about a favorite memory of teaching, Professor Peterken shared a story about one of her students. She said, "there was a whole year where I taught 3-year-old preschool in Australia, and I just loved it! At the end of the year this one student gave me a card, and the card said "thank you for helping us do what we wanted to do." That, to me, was a better report card then anything any professional could have told me because the children felt like they were able to learn what they wanted to." 


"That, to me, was a better report card then any professional could have told me because the children felt like they were able to learn what they wanted to."


To future students entering the teaching profession, Professor Peterken encourages "not to take yourself too seriously! Humor goes a long way in a classroom. Allowing your students to use humor too is a great way to embrace learning." 



Click HERE to learn more about the Early Childhood Education major and what Professor Peterken teaches.



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