Unspoken Conversations are the topics that are often swept under the carpet, whispered amongst the closest of friends and bitched about by many. I want to create awareness about difficult things that people face in life; grief, mental health, money, illnesses, family troubles, relationship difficulties and putting yourself first. I want to tell the truth about things that really matter.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Could you be a childcare worker?

Tegan with one of the children that she used to care for.

Today I welcome my little sister Tegan to the world of blogging. My "little" sister is not so little anymore. She's 22, is about to get married (I have to add that because I'm just SO excited), she's completed her Diploma in Childrens Services at SUNRASIA INSTITUTE OF TAFE after studying for 2 years and is now a Team Leader at a child care centre.

I am constantly amazed to hear the expectations and amount of time and effort that child care workers place into creating a warm and fun learning environment which fosters the needs of children from all different cultural backgrounds including children with additional needs. 

Having worked at an Out Of School Hours Care facility during university, I know just how demanding and tiring entertaining children can be.

I take my hat off to child care workers and I honestly believe that they deserve to be paid more. After all, they look after our future generations at an age where they are like little sponges ready to learn! 

Would you want their job? 

Ps - Teegs refers to Child Care Workers as 'educators' in this blog :) I guess that is the technical term for them - and rightly so!

There is no job more important than yours,
no job anywhere else in the land.
You are the keepers of the future:
you hold the smallest of hands.
Into your care you are trusted
to nurture and care for the young,
and for all of your everyday heroics,
your talents and skills go unsung.
You wipe tears from the eyes of the injured.
You rock babies brand new in your arms.
You encourage the shy and unsure child.
You make sure they are safe from all harm.
You foster the bonds of friendships,
letting no child go away mad.
You respect and you Honor their emotions.
You give hugs to each child when they're sad.
You have more impact than does a professor,
a child's mind is molded by four;
so whatever you lay on the table
is whatever that child will explore.
Give each child the tools for adventure,
let them be artists and writers and more;
let them fly in the wind and dance on the stars
and build castles of sand on the shore.
It is true that you don't make much money
and you don't get a whole lot of praise,
but when one small child says, "I love you,"
you're reminded of how this job pays.

What do you think are the most important roles and responsibilities of a child care worker?

On a daily basis, educators interact and communicate with parents on arrival and departures. Child care staff administer medication to children in need, open our arms up to them when they are sad, comfort them when they feel ill, apply first aid when they have a boo boo and help to dress them when they are in need of support. 

As Educators, we provide opportunities and experiences for the children to explore, discover, experiment, create, communicate, imagine, pretend, make and build bonds with their peers and educators to further their development and emerge their skills. Children learn best through play.              

Each month, our centre comes together after closing hours, for trainings, team meetings, room meetings and Team Leader meetings (just the team leaders, director & assistant director). We are also encouraged to attend trainings on Saturdays from time to time.
As Educators; our job is to support, encourage & assist children to the best of our knowledge & abilities to provide high quality care.

Tegan's story - a day in the life of a child care worker.

I walk into the Toddler’s room & greet all the educators & children a good morning. I put my belongings away & check the role list to count how many children we have at that minute, that all the children there have been signed in & how many we are expecting for the morning session and then the afternoon. I check the toddler communication diary to see if there are any messages to be passed on. I then scan the program on the wall to see if there are any children whom need observing or implementing and evaluating for the day ahead.

We have a daily roster for staff. This includes: preparing morning tea, setting up the beds for sleep time, preparing lunch, cleaning the bathroom, disinfecting the toys, preparing afternoon tea, attending the sleep room and completing the daily journal. It doesn’t always go to plan, although it is a great guideline to make sure the workload is shared around fairly and completed.  

We have a 'daily routine' that is used as a guide and is flexible to meet the needs of all children. We carry out nappy changes every 2 hours, (9am, 11am, 1pm, 3pm, 5pm)  offering each child the choice to sit on the potty/toilet, although if a child soils their nappy in-between the 2 hours, we change it instantly.

Educators remind the toilet trained/training children to go more frequently to avoid accidents and build their confidence in conquering toilet training. 

Morning tea is aimed at 10.00 am. We have group times before each meal time and then each child is encouraged and supported to wash their own hands. Morning tea consists of a variety of local fruit provided by the centre and a glass of milk by choice. 

Lunch is aimed at 11.30am. Our centre is a lunch box service which means that parents need to provide lunch and afternoon tea for their children. 

Sleep/rest time is in between 12 and 3, where each child who needs a sleep is provided a bed, their comforters and a bottle if needed. For the children whom do not require a sleep, Educators provide an environment full of experiences for the children to explore or they go play in the outdoor environment if the weather is suitable. 

Afternoon tea is aimed at 3pm.

 Throughout the day, Educators carry out chores such as monitoring the washing, cleaning, mopping, dishes etc to enable the centre to maintain a clean and healthy environment.

Two of Tegan's best friends that she met through TAFE when studying to be a child care worker.
How many childcare staff  are required to look after children?
The educator to child ratio is 1:8 in the toddler's room and we are fortunate that a majority of educators are qualified. With the new government legislation and licensing, changes by the 1st of January 2016, the child to educator ratio will be 1:5. At my centre, management aim to have a lower ratio than required.

We also have a child with Phelan Mcdermid Syndrome (PMS) whom is supported with 1:1 care 8 hours of the day.

Each room’s Team Leader has the responsibility to provide a program fortnightly. Three hours a week of 'non contact time' is provided for the Team Leader to create this program. The Toddler’s program consists of planning for the whole room as well as individual children. 

I program for roughly 50 toddlers. 

We have 3 rooms in our childcare centre. The Nursery room has children between the ages of 6 weeks and 2 years, the Toddlers room has children between the ages of 2 and 3 years and the Kindy looks after children between 3 and 5 (until the child is ready for school).
As soon as the children turn 2 they are in the Toddlers room and as soon as they turn 3 they are in the Kindy room.

 What goes on behind the scenes of a childcare centre?

Child Care Centres are required to plan and follow a curriculum just like school teachers.

The program for Child Care Centres is guided by "Belonging, Being and Becoming Early Years Learning Framework" (EYLF). 

“From the beginning of 2010 EYLF became the official early childhood curriculum framework for South Australia. The EYLF describes the principles, practices and outcomes essential to support and enhance young children's learning from birth to five years of age, as well as their transition to school.” (http://www.earlyyears.sa.edu.au/pages/EYLF/eylf_home/?reFlag=1

Our centre opens at 7.45 am and closes at 6pm from Monday to Friday. We offer all day sessions, morning sessions from 7.45am until 1pm and afternoon sessions from 1pm until 6pm. I would estimate that 30% of toddler children come half days and 70% of children come for a full day.

How do child care centres impact on children's lives?

The first 5 years of a child’s life are the most crucial. Instead of me trying to explain it; here is a great website I found that says it all http://www.factsforlifeglobal.org/03/

What qualifications do you need to be a childcare worker and how did you become one?

Once I completed year 12 in 2007 I chose to have a year off and work. I then moved to Adelaide in 2009 where I enrolled in my Diploma of Children Services at TAFESA. It's a 2 year course. I struggled to get along with one of my facilitators, who made my studies near impossible to complete.  I also experienced a very appalling practical experience at a centre I went to. I decided to pull through the course to walk away with at least my Certificate III in Children Services. 

While studying, I learnt about different child theorists, about milestones and the different stages of development, social and emotional, cognitive, physical and creative skills that children learn. I learnt everything I needed to know about my job as I have explained above.    

I needed a job pronto therefore I started job searching. I found a relief child care worker position which I applied for and worked at for 3 months in Adelaide. I was on call 24/7 not knowing where, when or even if I would get work. But I LOVED it. I ended up working at 1 centre as they asked to have me when they phoned my boss for a worker. I would work between 24 to 75 hours a week including Saturday and Sundays. 

In 2010, my partner and I moved to Mildura where I re-enrolled in my Diploma in Children Services internally and completed it over a 12 month period. I was a full time student and I juggled 3 jobs. I was the PIC (Person in Charge) at an OSHC (Out of School Hours Care service), I was also casually employed at 2 different child care centres. 

Once I completed my Diploma in Children Services in 2011, I was offered a job straight away as a Team Leader in the nursery 1 room (6 weeks til 18 months of age) at one of the centres I was employed causally at. I worked there for nearly 12 months before I moved back to South Australia. I started my new job at the end of 2011 and I'm still there now.

Tegan on the far right graduating from the Diploma in Children Services at TAFE SA

What are the challenges that you face in a child care centre?

As Team Leader I am responsible to 'speak with' parents about any concerns that arise about their child's development if any, whether it be their language, behavior or speech. This is why it is so important to form, build and emerge relationships with each and every family member whom passes through the service.

Did you know that you always wanted to work with children?

The centre I currently work at now is a community based service. I thoroughly enjoy my job because it is my passion. Ever since I was about 12 years of age I said I wanted to work with children. I completed a VOC studies in year 12 in a child care centre. I volunteered my time at a child care centre, waiting to turn 18 so I could try and get a position there. 

The most rewarding thing about my job is that each day is different. It's not just the same old day in, day out. I also love the affection you get from the children, the bonds you make with them and to see that they turn to you when they are hurt, sad, shy, scared and when they learn to say your name for the first time is VERY REWARDING:) 

Hopefully you can see from this post that being a child care educator is so much more then just "babysitting" children. Qualified educators study for at least two years to learn about children's development and how to assist with and identify children with additional needs, we are kids shoulders to cry on, there to teach them routine, eating healthily, social skills and so much more!

I believe the misconception about childcare educators is that people believe that we just play all day long but they do not realise the great depth and detail that educators must follow to assist in the children's development and what we actually do behind the scenes and throughout the day.

I love my job.

Could you do it?

Tegan x


Brenda Lazzaro Yoder, said...

Interesting and a great thing to post. Thanks for highlighting this.

Kirsty Arnold said...

I'm very proud of my sister for creating awareness about a profession that is misunderstood. They deserve every penny that they earn. Is childcare expensive in America?

Puck Rice said...

Loved this post, I'm about to start studying child care! would your sister have any more good websites that are a good addition to the study material? Thanks for sharing your experiences, just made me more excitedabout it all :)