Step inside the world of quality family day care
Step inside the world of quality family day care
National Family Day Care Week 2019 runs this week from 6 to 12 May and is a great opportunity to celebrate all the excellent family day care educators and services around the country.
More than 153,500 little Australians enjoy this flexible, home-based child care, and with a focus on learning through play, meaningful relationships and enriching experiences, quality family day care has much to offer.
To give parents a feel for this child care option, we spoke with the 2018 Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) Excellence in Family Day Care Awards National Educator of the Year, Tracey Brock.
You're passionate about family day care, Tracey, with glowing testimonials from parents and this national award. Where did your family day care career begin?
I have been a family day care educator, operating in the inner south-east suburbs of Brisbane, for nearly 19 years. Back in 2000, I was a young mother, working terrible hours as a restaurant manager and my daughter was only a year old.
I took the plunge and started my family day care business, Little Munchkin's FDC, to spend more time with my baby. This was the beginning of an amazing journey that has empowered me to juggle being a mum to two girls, being financially stable and being a part of the wonderful community that is family day care.
How many children do you look after at Little Munchkin's FDC?
On an average work day (Monday to Thursday, from 8am till 5.30pm) I care for four children between the ages of two- and five-years-old. During school holidays, I regularly have up to three extra school aged children. These children are usually older siblings of current children, or children I've cared for in the past who are returning for the holidays.
What sort of teachings and activities do you offer?
One of my most important philosophies is that children learn through play, and as the children are still young, parents generally embrace this approach.
I plan experiences for the children that are based on their ideas, strengths, goals and interests. I also seek input from parents, coordinators and my peers, so that I can balance the need to provide intentional teaching with the flexibility of free and open play.
As well as exploring new activities with the children (including dramatic play, sensory play, craft and ball games), I also encourage parents to let me know about any specific interests their child has, so these can be incorporated into the day. For example, if children are keen on construction, insects, cars, drawing and/or music, I'll offer these activities.
In the outdoor area, we have five native stingless beehives that we include in our daily learning, and we spend time growing and caring for plants and living things.
I also support the children to develop interpersonal and communication skills, such as sharing, respect, manners, being good winners and losers and how to behave as friends.
Part of what I do involves helping the two- to five-year-olds prepare for school, so parents provide healthy food and the children learn how to manage their own eating. Children also regularly participate in cooking experiences, and this often extends to life skills, such as setting the table and talking about healthy and 'sometimes' foods.
And last but not least, I change nappies as needed and provide school holiday care.
Why do your families choose family day care over other child care options?
Families choose my service because I am much more than just an educator of their children. I am the mum of a teenager and young adult, so along with my extensive experience in child care, I provide support and advice to parents when they’re facing challenges with their children.
My general approach to managing challenges and goals, such as toilet-training or preparing for school, is to work with parents as a team, so that we can be consistent and achieve shared outcomes. Caring for a smaller group of children allows me to focus on understanding each child's personality and motivations, so that I can provide them with tailored learning and development opportunities.
A healthy and clean environment is also very important to parents, and because I offer a small, family-based setting I'm able to manage illness in the environment with much more rigour.
All in all, the family day care setting allows me to provide a healthier and more tailored learning environment that appeals to parents and benefits children.
What have you learnt as a family day care educator?
Over the last 19 years, I have developed a better understanding of the challenges facing the family day care sector, and have become an advocate for family day care being an ongoing child care option, now and into the future.
I promote the work of FDC schemes and other educators by discussing with parents the benefits of having children cared for in a home setting; and I also provide a network of support and mentoring to child care industry professionals via my social media community page, Documenting in FDC.
After almost two decades, I remain so passionate about family day care, however, this year sees a change of direction for me. Instead of being a hands-on educator of young children, I will be helping other educators to establish and improve their businesses.
Congratulations on your award, Tracey, and thank you for your insights.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 01 October 2020
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