Child care person in the spotlight Karen Garcin

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  Published on Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Child care person in the spotlight Karen Garcin

Library Home  >  Profiles & Interviews
  Published on Tuesday, 23 May 2017

What is your full name?

My name is Karen Garcin and I am 56 years old. The children in my service call me Miss Karen as the very first child to enrol with me had attended a previous centre where I worked and called me Miss Karen. The other children picked it up and I'm still called Miss Karen.

Which service do you work in? How many staff and children are in your service?

I run my own family day care business called "Karen's Montessori Family Day Care" registered with Wynnum Family Day Care who have recently received the "Excellent" rating from ACECQA.

Although I work from home and care for 4 children per day, I am well supported by Wynnum Family Day Care and their staff members who are involved in all aspects of me providing my service. I currently have 9 children in my care, attending on various days.

What is your professional background and career experience?

I have a Bachelor of Social Science (majoring in Economics) so spent my early working life in the marketing/corporate world. However, when my children were born I stopped working to care for them on a full time basis. I was living in South Africa and sent both my children to a local Montessori Preschool as I had always admired the Montessori philosophy and method.

When my second child started preschool I decided to enrol and do the Montessori diploma by long-distance study through London. I knew then that I had found my calling so, as soon as I completed my diploma, I opened and ran a small Montessori centre on my large property at home. It was a very successful centre for 10 years before we decided to migrate to Australia.

Thinking that it would be easy to get into the same field upon arrival in Australia, I was dismayed to learn that I needed to re-qualify in order to teach here and with teenage children and the challenges of settling in a new country I couldn't face the prospect of studying, working and resettling at the same time, so spent 18 months working as a nanny for a lovely, very supportive, large family where I learned lots about the Australian way of life.

During this time I did some lunch relief work at a Montessori centre but without the Australian qualifications was unable to get a full time job. During this time I was contacted by another Montessori centre who offered me an apprenticeship with them, meaning I could work and study at the same time. I spent a few years with them as I obtained my Certificate III and Diploma of Children's Services.

During this time I also did various other courses including a course in Applied Behaviour Analysis for autistic children. After working as both a classroom assistant and then a group leader for a few years decided it was time for a change, so decided to become a family day care provider.

What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?

I've always been interested in children's development, so when my own children attended a Montessori Preschool in South Africa, I was so excited by what they learned and how they loved going there that I decided to investigate studying for the Montessori diploma myself.

What does a 'normal' day look like for you?

A normal day at my family day care would encompass playing, learning, laughing and caring for each other. When children arrive they and their families are greeted warmly and we discuss what is going on in their lives, for example, if they have visited grandparents over the weekend or been on a camping trip.

The children are usually delighted to see each other after a few days apart and play happily together until we have morning tea which is an opportunity for us to discuss healthy food, practice good table manners and interact with one another. Children help to tidy up the lunch table before we then go into a Montessori 'classroom' and spend some time with the teaching materials and activities.

Children are free to choose their own activities and work at their own pace, following their own interests, with me being there to observe and guide. The activities teach life skills, patience and independence. There are also activities teaching maths and language and to develop cognitive skills. Each child works at their own pace and is nurtured and respected during this process.

Once we are done with the Montessori activities, we have group time where children have an opportunity to share experiences with others, sing songs, listen to stories, dance and we learn about topics of interest. After lunch and a rest, children play outdoors where they enjoy dressing up, role-playing, climbing, running, sand-pit play or if they prefer a quiet activity, are free to read books or do other activities such as Lego, drawing, watering our plants or even doing more Montessori activities.

What makes your service unique?

The Montessori aspect of my family day care sets it apart from other family day care services as it informs my approach while at the same time the Early Years Learning Framework is followed and I am very aware of the importance of developing the whole child through Being, Belonging and Becoming. I also feel that being South African and having had varied life experiences and also having lived in the USA I am able to share some of these experiences, while teaching tolerance and respect for cultural diversity.

What are some of the advantages of working in early childhood education and care?

The main advantage to working in early education and care is being given the privilege of working with children in their very formative years and having an influence on their way of thinking, tolerance, respect and inclusion of others. It is also the privilege of bonding with families and developing relationships of mutual trust and respect.

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?

I feel that the bad press received lately in terms of the deaths of children in care and the dirty, unsafe conditions in some of them, the low ratings received by a large number of services in Queensland, unregistered services and their malpractice and finally, the prices charged by some services, have negatively impacted our sector. These 'bad eggs' have made it challenging for those services who are striving for excellence to defend the sector.

How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?

Wynnum Family Day Care have always strived for excellence and are always 'one step ahead' in trying to do what's best for children, families and communities. This is evidenced in their continued rating of "Excellent" by ACECQA. This culture of reflection and improvement is passed down to the educators who are registered with them.

How does the early childhood industry need to change to adapt to these challenges?

I feel that the industry could learn a lot from Wynnum Family Day Care and the way they are forward-thinking, innovative and supportive of their educators while always expecting a very high standard of care, keeping the best interests of children and families as the main goal at all times.

What advice would you offer someone thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care?

I would advise anyone thinking about a career in early childhood and care to firstly be sure that the care of children is your passion and interest. Many people enter the sector because they think of it as "something they can do while their children are young" or "an easy course to take" whilst not having a true calling. This can lead to job dissatisfaction and disillusionment, which ultimately leads to the needs of the children not being at the forefront of all you do.

Secondly, if you follow your passion and do your best, it will be recognised by your employers and families within your service and will lead to more families using your service and you reaping the benefits of possible promotion.

Finally, always remember it is a privilege to be handed the care of someone's most precious child and you can have a really positive influence on that child's well-being and development if you take your responsibility seriously. As stated by Maria Montessori in her book The Absorbent Mind, "The teacher of children up to six years of age knows that she has helped mankind in an essential part of its formation"...what a privilege and responsibility!

Finally, I would like to add that, although as educators we have days when we are tired or feel a little overwhelmed, there is nothing more rewarding than seeing the beautiful, happy, trusting little faces of children who are happy, secure and excited to learn about the world and our environment. The little arms reaching out for a hug or reassurance can only fill you with joy and affection. This is usually their first experience of a place they belong outside of home…let them feel happy, secure and respected and the learning will come easily and naturally.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Wednesday, 14 October 2020


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