Remember ‘Yes Day’, the film about a mum and dad who usually say no and decide to say yes to their kids' wildest requests? Well, that’s pretty much what Ali Fleming does with the children attending Nature Play DECD Family Day Care – every day!
There’s nothing that is off the table.
“So, what’s your plan?”
Each morning, all her children gather around for the day and have some morning tea together and Ali brightly requests their intentions for the day, asking, “So, what’s your plan?”.
From there, the children decide what happens, where they would like to go, and ultimately, what they would like to learn for the day! This could be at the local park, the creek, the op shop or even nestled into the nooks at Nature Play DECD Family Day Care.
And they do all of that on the local public transport together!
Of course, there are permission slips signed and arranged at the very beginning of the year for all the scenarios that can possibly occur, but the idea is that the kids decide where their learning will take place for the day.
Ali says, “I enjoy challenging children's thinking and asking why? Or why not? People’s ideas are not right or wrong, they just are. We can learn that we can have a different opinion from others and that is OK.”
Ali sees her role as a family day care educator as the 'facilitator of learning rather than the educational leader'. She wants to learn about what children are interested in learning and how she can support them to learn more and go deeper.
Throughout winter, Ali and her children have a fire in the fire pit most days. Often, they cook marshmallows, sausages, or soup with vegetables harvested from the garden.
Building fires is considered to fall into the category of ‘Risky Play’ and this style of learning has come a long way. Risky play is crucial to a child's development and while some people still have the view that the phrase can have negative connotations attached to it, so many key life-skill benefits come from engaging in it.
“We have 'rules' which I call 'ways of being' when we are engaging in growing our brains. With fires for example we use a safety circle which is a rope around the firepit which communicates a space where children can be safe and a place where it can be dangerous. Our ‘ways of being’ that we decided on together include waiting to be invited into the safety circle by an adult. For example, if I invite a child to come and cook their sausage. Another way of being is that we do this one person at a time so that everyone can remain safe.”
The children are involved in considering the risk in everything they do together.
So, why family day care?
Ali is very passionate about the opportunities family day care provide to families. We’ll leave it to the expert to answer this one.
“Due to the high educator to child ratio, family day care providers can really support children to 'lean in'. Lean into growth, lean into expressing their raw emotion and knowing that their educators are an extension of their family, a soft place to fall.”
Family day care offers a unique service where educators have the autonomy to run their practice in a way that is authentic to them as an individual. Educators can choose their own hours and fees as well as families. They choose who to welcome into their home and practice to fit with their own early childhood philosophy.
This enables deep connections that often facilitate entire families’ children utilising one service over time or even at the same time. Very few childcare services can offer mixed aged grouping of siblings in the same service, cared for by the same educator.
The school holidays also offer an opportunity to reconnect with children who have been at kindergarten or school during the term and come and join their siblings during holiday time.”
Flexibility is fundamental
FDC educators can also offer typical business hours, extended hours, overnight and weekend care. Perfect for shift workers, families requiring respite or if extended family is interstate or overseas. They become an extension of the child's family and our home becomes theirs.
Keep up with Ali's adventures and see where the kids take her on her Facebook Page, Nature Play DECD Family Day Care.