A spotlight on Goodstart Early Learning Tuggerah
A spotlight on Goodstart Early Learning Tuggerah
Enriching learning programs, fantastic facilities, meaningful relationships, and experienced educators are some of the key things you’re looking for in an early learning service, and Goodstart Tuggerah has all these qualities in spades!
This long day care centre was awarded an Excellent rating by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) early this year, and it’s an inspiring place for little learners and the greater community.
Today, Adam Angwin, Centre Director of Goodstart Tuggerah explains some of the initiatives that set his service apart.
Your service has been rated ‘Exceeding National Quality Standard’ in all seven quality areas since 2014 and joins a select number of Australian services that are rated Excellent. What do you think are the great strengths of your early learning centre?
Our centre is focused on learning through play, and we believe that every person (including our children, families, educators and community members) has the potential to positively influence those around them.
We form genuine partnerships, both inside and outside the service, and take a holistic approach to children’s education – by developing the ‘whole child’, giving them a voice, and supporting them to become life-long learners.
Our facilities are modern; we’re located in a business park and have extended hours to support working parents; and we have tailored resources and learning programs for ages six weeks to six years. There’s nature play, bike-riding, painting, music, storytime and lots of opportunities for children to learn, socialise, explore and imagine.
All in all, we have a positive energy at our service, and consider it a genuine privilege to be supporting our young learners and partnering with families and others living on NSW’s Central Coast.
Your service provides support for male family members and for those children who don’t have a male role model in their lives. Could you tell us about the kind of support on offer?
Raising a child can bring its challenges and being a child isn’t always easy either, so we’ve introduced a father’s group to support dads, same-sex couples and children who come from separated families.
The group meets every two weeks and has a social outing every month, and it’s a positive experience for all involved.
We’re also really proud of our Big Brother program, which has been going for almost three years. This initiative gives children a positive male role model if they don’t have one at home, and it helps kids who are struggling to regulate their behaviour.
Our Big Brother educators take children on excursions (e.g. to a café or reptile park), and provide positive role modelling. These male educators help children explore their emotions and learn positive ways to respond to situations, instead of just getting angry, sad or frustrated.
There’s evidence that children’s brain development and language gets a boost when they have a strong male figure in their life, and we’ve seen great results when our Big Brothers and children form meaningful attachments.
You have nine male educators at your service, which is notable because less than two per cent of early learning workers across the nation are men.
What drew you to this sector, Adam, and why does Goodstart Tuggerah have such a high proportion of male educators?
I’ve been in the early learning sector for 10 years and although I have a Business/Law Degree (as well as my Diploma of Early Childhood Education), I was drawn to early learning because I want to make a real difference in children’s lives.
I enjoy the fun day-to-day activities and the positive feel of my centre. And on a broader level, I’m passionate about helping kids grow and develop with a sense of social purpose (so they feel part of the community and actively contribute to it). I love being in a job that enables children to achieve their potential and thrive in their lives.
My colleagues feel the same, and I think our centre has attracted a high number of male educators because it’s a great place to work and our male educators recommended it to others. Our female educators are also strong advocates for men in child care and see the benefits of a more gender balanced teaching staff.
Our service is involved with networking groups for men in the early learning sector, and these groups encourage men to pursue a career in child care and highlight the value that male educators can bring.
At our service, the Big Brother program is a great way for our male educators to offer something meaningful to children, and initiatives like our community footy team and bush and beach school kindergarten program are an added bonus!
Having male educators helps us challenge gender stereotypes (such as the idea that ‘boys don’t play with dolls’) and brings another dimension to play (such as risky play).
It’s important for our children to see a harmonious male-female dynamic in the learning environment, and I think all of our children, educators and families benefit from having men and women on the teaching staff.
Your service has formed an educational partnership with Grace Springs Farm. What do your children learn when they visit this organic farm?
Everyone loves Grace Springs Farm (GSF)! On farm visits, our children learn how to tend to chooks, ducks, pigs and cows in a safe and caring way. If they’re scared of animals, these interactions really ease their worries, and they also learn where food comes from.
Back at the service, GSF has helped us set up a chicken coop, worm form and vegetable garden (which our families help with), and GSF also keeps us up-to-date on the birth of new animals, via letters and video calls.
Our partnership has helped GSF to plan tours for under fives, and it’s now a popular place for other early learning services and playgroups to visit, which is great to see.
You also collaborate with a local primary school and an aged care facility. What happens when your children visit these places?
Our children visit Wyong Public School on a monthly basis from the ages of two to five. They participate in learning with technology, take part in play sessions with Kindergarten and Year 3, see different school areas (including the classrooms, canteen and outdoor play spaces), and get to meet some teachers.
This helps to ensure a smooth transition to ‘big school’, and we also work with schools to address any special needs a child has. For instance, one of our transitioning children had sensitive medical needs and we were able to work with their new school to:
- Advise on the best layout of the classroom (to allow for their medical equipment),
- Model strategies for learning success, and
- Help the school choose the best support workers for the child.
Our visits to Opal Aged Care are a fantastic example of intergenerational care. Ages two to five visit the residents and carers monthly, and spend up to two hours playing, sharing and building genuine bonds. Young and old both really look forward to these visits.
Your service also fundraises for the local community, and provides guidance for TAFE NSW teachers and early childhood students. Are there any special plans for the rest of the year?
We’ll be continuing with all the great programs and partnerships we have, and are also working towards various qualifications. I’m completing my Bachelor of Education, and many of my colleagues are upskilling via Degree and Diploma study.
We’re hoping to extend our school program to other schools, in addition to Wyong Public, and are taking part in a research project around the language and speech development of toddlers.
We’re introducing a sports program for young girls, based on recent research around the benefits of this, and will continue our local community work on a needs-based basis (for example, if there’s a bushfire, we’ll raise funds to help).
There’s always something happening at Goodstart Tuggerah, and we’ll continue to deliver the quality early learning and care that earnt us our Excellent rating!
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 26 April 2021
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