The Australian early education sector is comprised of a range of people with diverse personal and professional experiences, but with one goal in common, to do their best to provide high quality learning for our children.
Every month we shine the spotlight on an outstanding educator to showcase the wonderful work happening within our community. This week meet the lovely Jessica Hill from Sparkways Early Learning Carrum Downs.
What is your full name and where do you work?
My name is Jessica Hill and I work at Sparkways Early Learning Carrum Downs. We currently have 15 staff. We are still growing as we only opened in January this year.
What is your professional background and career experience?
I have only really ever worked in child care and kinder. I began in sessional kinder, mostly with the three-year-olds before moving in to long day care services. Where I’ve mostly worked with the two-three-year-olds as assistant educator and room leader.
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
I first became interested in early childhood education when my son began kindergarten. I was instantly drawn to the learning spaces and the development growth my son had during this time. My interest in the industry just grew bigger and bigger from there.
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
The day normally starts with group time before morning tea. During group time we read stories, sing songs, do yoga. It really depends on the mood of the children on the day.
Then we do indoor/outdoor play until lunch time. After lunch the children in my room sleep and then wake up to have some afternoon tea and more free play until their parents come and collect them.
What makes your service unique?
I believe it’s the staff. The quality of staff, especially the staff in management, can make or break a centre. You need have staff who work as a team, respect one another and have each other’s back and I believe we do at Sparkways Early Learning Carrum Downs.
What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?
Honestly, I just love my job and that’s why I do it. I love watching the children’s development every day and knowing that I was a part of their learning is rewarding.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector and how has your service changed to cope with these challenges?
I would have to say the fact that early education tends to not be recognised as an education service. And currently a big challenge is Covid.
Regarding Covid, we’ve done what we can to try and make our parents feel included in our everyday activities and programs without them coming into the centre. So we use Story Park daily to update daily information for each child as well as photos from our day.
How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
It’s hard, it’s a difficult time for everyone. We can only support our families as best we can through these difficult times.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
It takes a lot of care and patience to work with children. I love it because every day is different. Just allow yourself to be in the moment with the children.
As educators we have the potential to change future generations and it’s something I don’t believe educators think about on a bigger scale. I believe once you get your head around that fact, the way you approach teaching changes.