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I have spent my entire career in education and child care – I’ve worked as a private nanny, a school teacher, and I’ve been the manager of a long day care centre. And I’ve loved all the jobs that I’ve had, but I’d have to say that being a family day care educator is the best.
During the day, I look after up to seven children in my own home from Tuesday through to Friday. I also do after school care. I’ve converted my garage into a special, purpose-built area for the children to engage in fun, curriculum-based activities, and they also spend time learning through play by exploring in my garden.
I think the home environment is one that is really beneficial for children, too. There’s a comfortable familiarity about it – if a child wants to curl up on the couch and read a book, it feels the same as they would in their own home. I think there is a different feel in family day care – it doesn’t feel like going to day care, it feels like going to a friend’s house to play.
It was a big change for me, coming from managing a long day care centre to working for myself with a small group of children at home. Initially it felt a bit lonely, because I was used to working in a big place with lots of other people, and all of a sudden it was just me, but that’s where Wesley Mission Queensland really helped me. One of their coordinators came out to visit with me and took me through the whole process. And once you start, you are assigned your own coordinator who is there to help you whenever you need it. They visit with you to see how you’re going, and they’re always just a phone call away. I thought the whole process was really professional; I was very impressed.
I think a big misconception that people may have about family day care is that it’s just ‘babysitting’ – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Family day care educators have the same qualifications as the staff at your local child care centre. We are held to the same quality and compliance standards, and we follow the early years framework. There are so many benefits to family day care – you have lower child-to-educator ratios, the learning is more individually-focused, the environment is more relaxed, and the care is a lot more flexible for everyone – educators and families alike!
Being a family day care educator is so rewarding, and I truly do feel that it gives children the best start in life. The flexible, individual care means that I am empowered to really build a learning framework work specific to the children’s interests, and provide them with a comfortable environment that helps them to learn and explore.
- Kelly Pugh-Jones, Family Day Care Educator