Educator in the Spotlight: Kylie Woolley
Educator in the Spotlight: Kylie Woolley
What is your name and where do you work?
My name is Kylie Woolley or as the children call me, Miss Kylie. I work as the service coordinator at Active Kids Mascot which is part of the Active Kids Group in Sydney. Active Kids Mascot provides education and care for 67 children and we have a team of 15 educators.
What is your professional background and career experience?
I have a Bachelor of Teaching Early Childhood and 20 years' experience working in long day care services. I started at Active Kids Narwee back in 1999 as a trainee educator, before going on to study my Diploma in Children's Service where I had an opportunity to work across all age groups, even before and after school care. After completing my Diploma, I took on the coordinator’s role at Narwee before moving over to our Mascot service where I have been ever since.
What attracted you to a career in the early childhood sector?
Initially I thought that I would be working in another industry when at school. However, I was introduced to the early childhood sector by my sister who was already working in a long day care service and the more time I spent in early education and care services, the more I loved it.
Looking back, the main draw card was, and still is, the endless opportunities that educators have to assist and support children in their own learning opportunities and to grow and develop their life skills through hands on experiences. Being able to provide an inclusive and welcoming environment which encourages all children, and knowing that I can make a difference in the lives of children who are in my care.
What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you?
When working in early childhood education and care every day is different, there is always something happening, no child is the same, so no day is the same. The atmosphere is fun, happy and lively. A normal day for me would be broken into morning and afternoons.
During the morning, I go around to each of the rooms to see the educators and children and check if they are set for the day or if they need anything or any assistance in setting up experiences or learning environments. Then there is a bit of office work, before spending time in each room covering breaks. This is a great opportunity to assist the educators and children and is when we may change a learning environment or create some useful materials. Afternoons are spent talking with families and more office work.
What makes your service unique?
Our learning environments are a key aspect of our service, these are consistently changing to meet the interests of our children and are designed by our educators and children to allow engagement in our curriculum and to take children on a learning journey that builds a sense of being, belonging and becoming for all within our service.
We acknowledge and value the children's voice in their learning and our children have the opportunity to alter their learning based on their suggestions and ideas each day. By giving the children a voice through choice and opinions we see them develop and learn that they are important and valued.
The service reflects the personality of the children, families, educators, and our community.
Our children are active members of the community where they are able to take their learning and exploring into the community on local excursions such as trips to the local supermarket, park and shops. Excursions are an important part of our learning which allows our children to explore the world around them and feel a part of a community.
Our children learn about the traditional custodians of our land, both past, present and future, through hands on experiences, local elders and daily yarning circles. We have implemented the eight ways of learning, by starting with an interest that is current and then coming up with learning goals which take into account what our children want to achieve.
This then helps us to think up ideas for the eight ways of learning. We start with goals and then think of ways we could support the children in achieving them. We look at the learning types that are included in the eight ways of learning. Focusing on one at a time we brainstorm how our ideas could link with that.
The relationships that we form with children, families, other educators and the community is one of the advantages of early childhood education. It’s very rewarding meeting up with children and families who have been in our service and learning that they are now going off to high school or part of a regional team in sport and knowing you have played a role in their lives. Early childhood education and care is one extended family where passion for children can be observed through one’s service.
What are some of the biggest challenges facing the early learning sector and how have you adapted to meet these challenges?
2020 has seen a number of challenges in early education, like everyone in the COVID-19 pandemic we have been taken on a roller coaster ride of highs and lows. Changing with the times while still providing a learning environment for our children to grow, experiencing uncertain times and knowing the fear amongst the wider community relating to COVID-19. But we had to remind ourselves how lucky we are to do what we do; we are an essential service for the community and in continuing to provide education and care services for children and families meant we had to, in a way, create our own bubble.
Like many, we worked together to implement new policies and procedures to ensure the health and safety of our children, families and educators, while waiting on the next update from NSW Health. Checking the temperature of every educator and child every day, no external visitors, contactless deliveries and families being required to drop off/pick up in one designated area has become the ‘norm’.
We continue to work to the new normal, acknowledge all self-sacrificing educators who continue showing up each and every day during this time to provide children with the best possible care with greatest levels of safety and protection.
What are some of the challenges in the early learning sector more widely?
Early childhood education and care has changed over the years, but the importance of the roles which educators play in the lives of young children is still not always understood by Australian society.
Child care is not babysitting. We play a vital role in childhood development and you need to be prepared to not only care for these children but also teach. Educators play a huge role during the most important years of a child’s life with 90 per cent of a child’s brain development happening by the age of 5. Public recognition is lacking, with many educators feeling under-valued, despite being an important contributor to the development and well-being of children.
After more than 20 years in one organisation you can see that I love where I work and I am still happy coming into work every day. Active Kids has been a great support to my career in early childhood and I feel lucky to do what I do and to be part of an organisation which is like a second family
The Active Kids Group appreciates and recognises the importance of our educators and the positive influence they have on children. We praise and highlight the important role our educators are providing, we share information with families about what our educators are doing to assist their children.
The industry needs to continue to take a stand and demonstrate the importance of early childhood educators. Information about the role an educator plays in a child’s life and the way an educator works for children needs to be promoted.
What advice would you offer to someone thinking about a career in early learning?
If someone is thinking about a career or looking for a promotion in early childhood education and care I would share the importance of professional development, further training and staff development There are always new ideas and theories relating to our sector, and to succeed and grow as an educator we need to be aware of what is current and have a willingness to learn, learn, learn!
This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Monday, 02 November 2020
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