Study is a brilliant way to expand your work horizons, and for Heidi Madeheim it’s taken dedication, passion and some serious time-management skills to complete her Certificate III in Early Childhood Education.
Today, the busy mum-of-two explains how she’s worked her way towards the qualification. Heidi also shares some of the great benefits that flow from a career in early childhood education and care (ECEC).
Get ready to be inspired!
What has your child care career involved so far, Heidi?
I first joined the child care sector when I moved from South Africa to Australia, and got a job in before and after school care, working with Helping Hands at Noosaville State School back in 2016.
I loved working there, but needed longer hours as my husband and I wanted to buy a house and set ourselves up in our new country.
I was very lucky that Goodstart Early Learning in Noosaville took me on. I’ve been with them for almost two-and-a-half years, and they’ve supported me in working towards my Certificate III in Early Childhood Education.
I’ve been able to do the job I love, while gaining the qualification I need, and for that, I was – and am – very grateful.
You’ve had a lot going on in your life in recent years. How did you balance study with work, parenting and your new start in Australia?
I’ll be honest and say it wasn’t always easy!
While I’ve been finishing my Cert III, I’ve had a baby, built (not bought) a house, homeschooled my older daughter during the COVID-19 lockdown, and struggled a bit with missing my family back in South Africa.
Fortunately, though, life has settled down a little and I’m in a really good place.
Although my study was slow-going at first, I was able to finish it quickly towards the end. I had Thursdays off work, so I’d drop my kids at care and school, then go to the library to study. I also studied at work during my lunch hour, where some of my lovely colleagues could help me if I got stuck with a question or two!
I got into a great routine as my study went on, and felt really motivated to finish. The trick is to carry on studying every day – even if it’s just one question a day.
It’s so hard to get back into it if you lose your rhythm. I also found I was too tired to study at night, so it’s definitely best to pick moments when your mind is fresh.
Your youngest daughter attends your child care service. What are the benefits and challenges of working in the same ECEC environment as your preschooler?
I’m not allowed to teach in the same class as my daughter, as it would be too difficult, but it’s amazing having her at Goodstart with me. Obviously, drop-offs and pick-ups are convenient, and it’s been lovely to be able to pop in to her classroom, give her cuddles and say, “I love you.”
I’ve only been able to do the ‘popping in’ this year, because in previous years she was too young to understand that I worked at her child care centre and used to cry.
Now that she’s a bit older, she runs up and cuddles me, and understands that I’m going back to my class. I tell her I’m off to change nappies and we both have a laugh at that!
Aside from getting to see your daughter at work, what do you love about your job, and what are the benefits of this qualification, going forward?
On an emotional level, I love getting cuddles from the children. It feels so nice to walk into my classroom and have a toddler run up to me, give me a hug, and say "HEIDI!!!!"
I also love listening to the beautiful stories the kindy kids excitedly tell me. There’s always a lot to report!
Career-wise, my role as an educator is to give children the tools with which to cultivate their own gardens of knowledge. To accomplish this goal, I teach to the needs of each child, so that all learners can feel capable and successful, and this is incredibly rewarding.
Now that I’ve finished my Cert III, I am about to start my Diploma level qualification in child care.
This will enable me to become a group leader in the room, and with this more senior role, will come more money – which is always a good thing!
I know that this new position will put me out of my comfort zone, but I’m really excited to keep my study momentum going, and achieve more and more in my child care career.
What would you say to other parents who are thinking about starting a career in child care?
The biggest thing is that I feel like I’m making a real difference in little ones’ futures.
It’s incredibly rewarding on that level, and practically-speaking, child care is a flexible industry to work in. Many of us have young families, so everyone understands if your child is sick or you have an appointment.
My colleagues are wonderful, encouraging people, and there’s never a dull day when you work with under fives!
Thanks so much for your time, Heidi, and congratulations on all you’ve achieved.