Child care person in the spotlight
Melindie Lane
This week we are proud to introduce you to Melindie Lane who was recently announced as the Early Childhood Educator of the Year VIC/TAS in the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards.

What is your full name?

My name is Melindie Lane (Mel) and I am 36.

Which service do you work in?

I work at Seawinds Kindergarten and Early Learning Centre in Rosebud West, Victoria.

What is your professional background and career experience?

I began working as an early childhood teacher four years ago. I decided after the birth of my second son that this was my calling. Prior to that, my background was in psychology and counselling and I worked as an occupational therapy allied health assistant for Peninsula Health.

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

I had always wanted to teach, but I just took the long way around getting there. Having a family helped me to see what I was passionate about and where I could make the biggest difference.

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

As the Team leader for Teaching and Learning my day is jam-packed. I work with the teachers to build upon and hone their practice, to develop high quality programs, to develop learning plans for children and to support their classrooms. I assist the classrooms by working with children to support their learning and development and also support families in making the best choices for their children with regard to learning and development.

My role is wide and varied and includes supporting teachers with working collaboratively through our ‘collaborative conversations’ sessions, to working together with the adjacent school on teaching and learning programs, to running professional development sessions for the local teachers and educators and overseeing the implementation of the Abecedarian approach in our classrooms.

What makes your service unique?

Our service is unique in many ways. We offer an evidence based approach to teaching and learning called the Abecedarian Approach. This rich, language based approach offers opportunities to learn and develop broad vocabularies and also supports children to develop a confident, and enthusiastic view of learning. The approach has been proven to not only support better academic outcomes for children, but also leads to better social, economic and health outcomes for the future.

We have a large team of trained and experienced volunteers who work within the classroom assisting with the implementation of the Abecedarian approach and also the children’s learning in general. Grade 6 children from the adjacent school are trained in the Abecedarian technique of Conversational Reading and sacrifice their lunch times to come and read with our children. Both the volunteers and the grade six visits provide opportunities for our children to make connections with the broader community and help them to understand more about the world to which they belong.

We are part of an integrated community hub, meaning that there are numerous services available to support our families and children in a variety of ways. There are also lots of wonderful opportunities for parents to take a break and do something for themselves including computer courses, art classes, yoga and more.

We also have a coffee shop where families can meet and have a coffee or lunch or an after kinder milkshake. There's so much for families to do!

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

I have the opportunity make a difference in children's lives and to support families through some of the most important decisions they will make – such as sending their children to school. I also get to inspire a love of learning in children and encourage them to challenge themselves, to take risks and to achieve success!

What are some of the biggest challenges facing the sector?

The lack of recognition from government regarding the importance of early childhood education, and the lack of an ongoing commitment to funding for universal access.

Also, helping families to understand the importance of a high quality early childhood education and the impact that early intervention can have on a child's future.

How has your service changed to deal with these challenges?

Parent engagement is a priority for us at Seawinds, we endeavor to make our families feel supported, welcome and a part of our community. We work hard to communicate the importance of early childhood education and the implementation of the Abecedarian approach is a part of this.

We also offer before and after kindergarten care so that children from working families can still receive a kindergarten education.

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

We need to hone our teaching and learning practices to ensure that they are of a high standard, and show government and other deciding bodies the importance of early childhood education in creating successful futures. We need to be innovative in how we offer our early childhood programs and look at new ways of engaging parents. One way we have done this is through the use of social media.

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

Volunteer: make sure you really understand what early childhood education is about. Be passionate, when you love what you do, you can always do it well. Keep up to date with current research and ideas, true teachers are lifelong learners. Be systematic and rigorous is your planning for learning and make sure to take time for yourself.

When you teach from the heart and with passion, anything is possible.
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Care For Kids Internet Services Pty Ltd
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PO Box 543 Balmain NSW 2041

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