When Lynne Reside attended the Cities Fit for Children conference in November, it was a chance to celebrate after months of planning.
But the longtime early childhood educator ended up with another reason to celebrate when she was honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the North Okanagan Early Years Council.
“It was incredible to get this kind of recognition from the community with my colleagues from all over the province,” said Reside, adding that it was a pleasant surprise since she hadn’t known that the award existed and it was the first time it had been presented.
The longtime children and families advocate in the North Okanagan had been busy organizing the conference, which attracted people from around the province, and making sure that the seven Champion of the Child Awards were presented to local community members.
Reside retired in October from the council (formerly North Okanagan Early Childhood Development Coalition) where she was early years community development coordinator. The council decided to present the award to recognize someone who has made an outstanding contribution to the wellbeing of young children.
Reside is now doing similar work for the United Way North Okanagan Shuswap as manager of the Success Basic program funded by the United Way, the Credit Unions of B.C. and the Ministry for Children and Family Development. The goal is to bring together all stakeholders for better outcomes for children and families and provide support for programs.
“I had always wanted to work with children, probably as a teacher, but when I had my first child, I became fascinated with early childhood development,” she said. “I took Montessori training and I really enjoyed being a pre-school teacher and working in administration.”
She noted that she has seen a lot of change in early childhood education since she started in the field. At that time, there were more stay-at-home parents and any pre-school programs were for socialization and play. When more brain development information became known, there was a more structured approach and now she sees a return to nurturing social and emotional development through a play-based approach.
“Technology has been a huge game-changer in education. Children are not as physically active and their social and language skills are affected, and now screens are so much more portable with handheld devices to use when children should be reading or playing outside,” she said. “Screen skills are needed but children don’t need these in the first six years. Your child is not going to be left behind with a healthy balance. They will pick up the skills.”
Reside reminds parents that children under two should have no screen time and ages two to six no more than one hour a day. Parents can recognize and implement this by being good role models and monitoring their own screen time when they are with their children.
She will be working with the North Okanagan Optimist Club for Unplug and Play Week this month and also on Family Literacy Day.
“It is important that families and the community develop alternative things to do, like drop-in programs and more outdoor programs. Hands-on exploration helps develop the critical thinking skills and the literacy that are so important in today’s society.”
Reside can see herself being involved in early childhood education issues for a long time to come.
“I just can’t see myself anywhere else. It’s been a very rewarding career and this is a great community. People are working to make this a great community for children to grow up in.
“I’m very grateful to everyone in the community who supports this goal, the businesses which support it by making their premises family friendly and in other ways, and all the community members and agencies who help in so many ways. There are many challenges to having a young family, and families need support and encouragement from the community.”