Magda Sanchez - Chiquitos FDC
Magda Sanchez - Chiquitos FDC
Every month we profile an outstanding and inspiring early childhood educator in an effort to encourage peer-to-peer learning and constant improvement. This week we are delighted to introduce you to Magda Sanchez from Chiquitos Family Day Care in NSW.
What is your professional background and career experience?
I have been involved in the early childhood industry for more than 26 years and hold a double degree in Early Childhood Education (UNE- AUSTRALIA) and (ISPPEI-PERU) and a certificate IV in Assessment and Workplace Training.
What attracted you to a career in family daycare?
I have been in the early education and care sector for more than 27 years. Beginning my career in preschools and kindergartens in Peru, South America, before moving to Australia in 2000, my vast knowledge and experiences developed further as I continued working in the industry as an educator and a nanny while studying my degree in early childhood.
Chiquitos Family Day Care service began when my first son was born in 2006 and continued during and after my second son was born in 2009. I delighted in my service being focused on providing the best possible care and education to young children in a personalised, small group environment. The flexibility to still be available to my own family is what attracted me to family daycare and still does.
Family daycare is as much about relationship as it is about education. When I work with a child I am also working with their family and the community. Every time a new family starts Chiquitos Family Daycare, I think about how I am going to make them feel comfortable at my service, provide a sense of belonging and authentic opportunities for families to be involved in, and contribute to, their child’s learning. Families appreciate my coffee station set up in the morning which gives me the opportunity to engage with families sharing one of our latest projects or activities, such as parent - child art craft day, grandparent day, mother’s yoga day or excursions. We endeavour to provide a nurturing, loving, safe and home-like environment where children can grow and learn to the best of their ability.;
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
A typical workday for me as an educator is anything but typical. An awesome play for the day can go out the window in a matter of minutes. It is easy to get sidetracked when working with children. That is why it is important that educators have a good sense of humour and the ability to think like their students.
The day goes by quickly because of all the interactions that occur. I encounter a variety of children who have different personalities, abilities, passions, humour, and strengths, interest and needs. Plus, you never know what will be waiting for us on our way to our veggie patch on the way to the sandpit or all the different stations around daycare. This makes my family daycare extremely fast paced.
This is a general overview of our daily schedule just to give you an idea of how our days are structured. Children in my care learn through play, intentional teaching and spontaneous experiences.
- We start our day by encouraging children to explore the playroom around them. Through exposure to natural materials, resources and sustainable practices, they are given opportunities to problem solve, build relationships, create amazing art, role play, socialise, experiment, hypothesise, be active and take risks. Reading books contributes to the community and helps them to slow down and enjoy the beauty of childhood.
- Then we head over to begin our morning with circle time. Some children will be called “square time” because we are sitting on a square rug and not on a circle. Our morning circle time begins by paying our respect to the traditional owners of land then we sing a greeting song in Spanish and talk about the weather and days of the week. This is when I take the opportunity to highlight any concept that we may be focusing on that day, dinosaurs, transport, role play cooking, shapes, colours numbers etc.
- I set out different materials and tools every day for creative art experiences. We also have a creative art shelf with markers and paint and glue and paper and scissors and yarn and so on for the children to use in their own way as they wish.
- I change the kinds of blocks and materials throughout the year but always have it set up next to our largest green station in the outdoor play.
- The water and sand play station are out in our outdoor area, so I set out a tub in the indoor classroom for this kind of play during the cold days of wintertime.
- There is a range of materials available all the times to promote writing in the classroom including clip boards, paper, pencils, crayons, stamps, stickers, envelopes and so on. I rotate the materials by
listening to what the children would like me to add or observing what they seem to have lost interest in.
- We can’t possibly fit everything into our small playroom environment at the same time so we rotate this shelf from being a light table centre to a music centre to a puzzle centre throughout the year and you will notice that our books are kept easily accessible to children with books that they can reach at any stage and also can borrow to take home.
- After our morning play (which lasts if the children seem to be staying interested in things) then we clean up, wash hands and sit down for morning tea.
- After morning tea, children clear their own table then pick out a book to read or look through while the others finish up then nappy change times and intentional learning activity.
- During outdoor play we may stay outside for five minutes or 45 minutes depending on the weather and what the children are interested. My environment provides indoor and outdoor activities as I can supervise both areas at the same time due to the way is designed.
- By the time we head back inside, we usually have about 20 minutes left to finish up our morning and get ready for lunch and rest time.
- After rest time, children find playroom set up for afternoon play that encourages quiet activities as they are get ready for pick up time.
What are some of the advantages of working in family daycare?
You set your working hours – including if you choose to work weekends or outside of core hours. Also I can set up my activities, experiences and environments the way I want too to meet the criteria of my own professional values and philosophy.
Due to the low numbers (4 children under school age) I have more opportunity to interact and engage with the children, follow their interests and offer them a welcoming and secure home environment – this often leads to quicker settling in periods for new children as the environment is less overwhelming and the educator remains constant in their life. I develop more engaged and purposeful relationships with the children in my care and I can take the time to really follow through on their individual learning journeys and plan effectively for their needs.
Another important advantage is building collaborative relationships with my families and so we can work together to create the best outcomes for all children. Family day care also gives me the opportunity to use the materials and resources I want to! I can develop a programming and parent communication system that works effectively for me as time management is essential when you work on your own. Also I can choose the days and hours I work and have the opportunity to promote inclusiveness and multi-cultural support in an environment of play based learning. Finally working in family day care offers a great opportunity to be an active participant in our local community.
What are some of the biggest challenges of working in family daycare?
It can be isolated work. Your home and outdoor areas become your care environment and you need to purchase your own craft materials, resources, furniture etc. You are a sole operator and therefore responsible for the day-to-day running and administration of your service. It’s good to find a good coordination unit, family day care scheme or council to be registered with, that is appropriate for your area for government subsidy data entry and remuneration. Meeting the dual needs of paperwork requirements for running a business from home on your own as well as the documentation paperwork and planning expectations can also be a challenge.
Promoting and marketing your service to ensure you build up your professional reputation and don’t have long periods of vacancies which can cause financial strain and uncertainty.
On a practical level, storage of resources and equipment is an issue, as resources can begin to take over your household if you have not thought ahead and organised spaces. Following up on late fees is an ongoing challenge. As a small business fees are my direct income and when fees are late or get behind it makes it difficult to meet my own budgetary obligations.
Your own family can find it difficult to get used to having their spaces modified for safety, and not being able to leave certain things out or not being able to do renovation or repair work whenever they want, sharing toys and their Mum, always having other children in the house early or late, having family day care toys and paperwork everywhere.
Dealing with difficult parent or carer situations or conversations can certainly be a challenge. Finally, keeping indoor and outdoor areas in good conditions to reflect the professionalism of my service.
How can family day care educators adapt to these challenges?
By holding incursions and online networking with other educators or by joining the local library and playgroup. Try and remember that Family Daycare is an extension of children’s home so do not overcrowd your back yard with toys so at the end of the week, you can pack up and get your back yard back!
Do not overcrowd your environment and remember to observe children’s interests and set up three or four stations depending on ratios and age groups of children.
It’s helpful to do lots of good research on a good scheme provider and a good online program that will reduce your workload. Share your family daycare via social media, remembering your obligations re privacy. Set up a website and keep track of other providers in your area.
In terms of fees I have found that asking families to set up a periodical period really helps. Also taking the view of families as co-workers is good, try and take on board their philosophies as long as they comply with the rules and guidelines.
How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?
A good collaborative relationship with families and your scheme are fundamental to achieving quality; partnerships need committed, collaborative and creative leadership. Effective partnerships support children's access, inclusion and participation aiming to provide practical guidance and to complement the work already being done at daycare.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
Working as a family day care educator means you play a meaningful role in the lives of young children. A huge aspect of the role is to nurture and guide children as they explore and learn. I would encourage people wanting to work in this area to get out and meet wonderful educators who are incredible advocates of family daycare and who can help you grow as a professional.
When you work in family day care you don’t have three or four team members in the staff room and so it’s good to tap into a network of family educators and to learn from their daily experiences. This is how I learnt more about communication with children in different ages and how to communicate with parents. Great educators foster and strengthen relationships by listening. When I show genuine interest in getting to know children and families, I create a sense of belonging. To build a genuine connection we need to take the time to have meaningful conversations with families about their children and this in turn gives families an insight into their own child’s day, as well as the importance of our role as educators. After listening I try to put myself into the family’s situation for a moment and think about how I would feel in their shoes.
One excellent example is how some of the families were worried about their child’s eating habits, so this year I created a healthy eating program where families could brainstorm healthy and affordable recipes. I organised a talk for a ‘Munch and Move’ program and most of the families participated in this project.
This experience took families further in their search for healthy eating options and as a result we now practice ‘Nude Food’, (using less wrapped food) as well as parents being educators as cooks (for example making pasta and sauce with the children), all highlighting healthy eating.
Another wonderful example of strengthening relationships and achieving excellent educational outcomes at the same time is our current ‘Book Recycling Program’, where parents and extended families are assisting to create a street library. Positive relationships are being fostered and connections with each family member are being built as their child naturally covers and meets outcome in an organic way.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 02 March 2020
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