Our Educator Spotlight series highlights some of our dedicated family day care educators and the wonderful work they do to enrich the lives of children in their care, families and their communities.
Today we shine the light on Julie from Townsville. Julie has been an educator with the Townsville and Regions Service since she began her family day care 8 1/2 years ago.
So Julie, what inspired you to become an educator and open your own family day care?
I was working at a day care centre and struggled with the fact that children were not 100% free to develop and socialise at their own pace. At that stage my youngest child was still requiring after school care, so I decided to do some research into family day care and have not looked back since.
My biggest reason to opening my own family day care initially was to have the best of both worlds – to be actively working and still be home for my own children. Now it’s to provide an environment for children where they are safe, happy and nurtured while developing at their own pace.
How would you describe your family day care and what makes it special?
I’m always striving to create an environment that provides stimulating play-based experiences for children to be able to grow their cognitive, physical, emotional and social development. I observe the children in my care to find out what their individual needs and requirements are. This knowledge is used to create a specially designed play environment for all the children to empower their growth in all areas.
In my environment I stimulate the children with colours and textiles during play. I also ensure that there are colours to promote calmness, peacefulness and healthy sleep patterns. I believe all children deserve to be treated with love and kindness. I also believe they are entitled to be safe, healthy and have a strong family connection. To support this, I ensure strong communication between parents and myself as I share their child’s day – their achievements, their strengths and challenges. I am aware of the difficulties that parents and families have at times and offer support, advice and referrals to parents when required.
I consider my lucky as I’m centrally located in Townsville within a beautiful suburb with fantastic neighbours who often tell me they enjoy listening to the children laughing and playing in the outside play area. All my families are great. The children come each morning with beautiful smiles on their faces! Both the parents and I can see they genuinely like being here. Some even say at pickup time that they’re not ready and they need another few minutes to finish playing with their friends!
What is a typical day for you at your family day care?
Wow, a typical day! Every day is different! Our day starts at about 7:45am and the children come in at staggered times. We generally have free play until morning tea at 9:30am – 10:00am. Then we have what I call ‘mat time’. This is where we read books, sing, learn colours, numbers, the alphabet and nursery rhymes. We also do our activity at this time. Lunch is at approximately 11.30am – 12:00pm and then the children have rest time. Afternoon tea is usually at 3ish as all the children are awake by that stage. For the remainder of the day, weather permitting, we are outside for some more serious play time.
What have you learned from the children in your care?
Children have the capacity to teach us about being non-judgemental, accepting each other as we are, being non-discriminatory and not holding grudges. Children live in the here and now, so they are teaching adults to enjoy each precious moment as it should be. Children are wonderful learners who have the skill to adapt in ways that adults struggle with. Children have taught me to understand that each child is an individual that will grow and learn at their own pace. They are the most precious people in the world. We should all be caring, protective and loving to all children.
What do you find most rewarding about working as an educator?
I like the freedom to provide children with care in a manner that I believe they should receive. I also like the flexibility with care I can offer families.
I love the bond that can be formed with children and having them remember you when they finish in your care. I had a child recently (who is now 10) say that I am still their favourite teacher, which is just heart warming and tells me that I have done the best I can. That is what a family day care is all about, leaving a positive lasting impression on a child and their families.
What do you love the most about working for Enhance Family Day Care?
The Townsville and Regions staff have always been fantastic with supporting me and my families with any issues or queries I experience. When I make contact with the office the staff are always happy to assist and if they can’t, they do their best to find the information/resources I need. I honestly would not transfer to another scheme.
What advice would you have for other people wanting to start their own family day care business?
Go for it! It’s a fantastic opportunity both personally and professionally. There are plenty of opportunities to brighten the future of a child just by proving a safe, secure and nurturing environment. You’re also providing parents with a service where they can be confident that their most precious possession is well cared for.