Susan de Kok - Willow Early Learning Centre Mudgeeraba
Susan de Kok - Willow Early Learning Centre Mudgeeraba
What is your full name?
My name is Susan de Kok and I am 38 years old.
Which service do you work in? How many staff and children are in your service?
I work in Willow Early Learning Centre Mudgeeraba, Queensland, we have a staff of 29.
What is your professional background and career experience?
I have worked in children's services for 13 years. I started as a centre float and worked through every qualification from Certificate III, Diploma and Advanced Diploma to completing my Bachelors in Early Childhood Education.
To ensure l was ready for every opportunity that l took on, l completed my studies before taking on the relevant position. I have programmed and operated every room from nursery to the early childhood teacher in the kindergarten room and this has allowed me to develop a diverse skill set. I believe knowledge is the key to success and my experience allowed me to build a strong foundation and become a successful centre manager.
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
My attraction to the early childhood education and care sector came naturally to me as l am a proud mother of seven children. I enjoyed watching and nurturing my children's development and found my calling in life. Children bring so much joy to the world and all l wanted, and continue to want, is challenge their thinking and bring the best possible opportunities to their daily lives.
What does a 'normal' day look like for you?
To define a normal day l would have to say would be completely opposite to the word normal. I set myself, and my team of educators, goals that we all would like to achieve, however, we never aim for normal, we aim for exceeding.
What makes your service unique?
What makes our service unique is definitely the educators. We aim at providing a holistic environment that caters for each and every child with their own diverse input. Each educator comes to work with a 100 per cent inspirational attitude. Everyone seems to bounce off each other with their creative ideas.
As part of our extra curriculum we have two permanent educators who guide the children to learn Mandarin and Japanese. Both Callia and Hitomi, our educators, work everyday so the children have plenty of opportunities to learn about their respective cultures.
Fridays are full of fun! Our centre hosts Future Champs healthy eating and sports program and then at 10am we have a centre dance-off. This is where the whole centre joins together every week to have a dance and remember that we are all here together as one.
Our centre chef Meg caters for morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and a late snack. We want to show our families that they are important, and provide them with freshly baked food to munch on after they drop their children into our care.
Our centre also has a private Parent Room that is supplied with tea, coffee and snacks for the parents to use at their leisure. We place useful information in the Parent Room and resources for the parents to take away with them. We greatly value the contribution parents make to our service and have a large centre display with all of the volunteering that our parents participate in each month here at Willow Early Learning Centre Mudgeeraba.
What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?
The advantages of working in the early childhood education and care sector revolve around the support that we receive from our management team, Elite Childcare Management. Our service is assisted and valued within their vision to guide our centre.
Another contribution is having the ability to be able to embed child protection and guide the children, families, community and educators to act as advocates for the children. Our centre's programming is inclusive of all aspects within the early childhood sector.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?
Our biggest challenge is always feeling like we need more time. As educators we often critically reflect on how we can attempt to carry over events due to the interests that the children have shown. If the days were longer they would all be wonderful.
How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?
To deal with these challenges we have set up a large resource room that the educators can walk into with the children. This allows the children to have a voice in what they would like to do each day and has freed up a bit more time in our day, as we have created ready to go resources and processes to foster and enhance the children’s development.
How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?
The owner of our centre and our management team (Elite) supply an amazing budget to allow our centre to provide resources.
The only suggestion l believe would assist supporting the industry as a whole would be a wage increase to help our dedicated early childhood educators.
What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?
To anyone that is interested in entering the early childhood sector l would inform them that they are entering the most rewarding job in the world. Being part of this centre, in particular, is like having an extended family. The families value what we do here, and we connect with them with respect and acknowledgement, understanding that they know their child better than anyone. We are always open to their thoughts and suggestions.
Child care is not something you do for a job, it is something you do because you want to be part of the children’s lives everyday just as a parent would, and be ready to face challenges and achievements.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
For anyone who would like to see our centre, we believe in opening our hearts and minds to everyone in our community. Come in and see us, we would love to share our thoughts and ideas with you and proudly demonstrate to you why we value what we have and what we do.
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 15 January 2020
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