Kate, Centre Director of Petit Early Learning Journey Hamilton, believes child care should provide a home-like environment to support both children and their parents.
“I was motivated to work in the early childhood sector after having my own children. As a Mum, you want the best for your children. I wanted to provide that same level of attention to every child as I bring to my own. If I treat my own children with love and respect then I want to treat all children that way.”
The British born Mum moved to Australia 20 years ago, and has both her Certificate 3 and Diploma in Child Care. She is now studying towards an Advanced Diploma in Community Sector Management. Prior to being offered the position as Centre Director of Petit ELJ Hamilton in June 2017, Kate was a key member of a different child care centre in Brisbane. Although she had a prominent role within the center, Kate began to feel discouraged.
“I didn’t agree with their philosophies so I left that centre. I actually left the industry for six months.”
A fresh new chapter
Kate received a call from Petit ELJ Area manager Rebecca asking if she wanted to have a look at Petit’s centre in the beautiful riverside suburb of Hamilton, just 7 kilometers from Brisbane city. The centre had just opened a year earlier, but took Kate completely by surprise.
“I immediately fell in love! The centre itself is a really modern building. It’s bright, airy and open… exactly the kind of environment you’d want your children to spend time enjoying. The staff were (and still are) absolutely gorgeous and I found Petit’s resources simply beautiful.”
Kate, without hesitation, accepted the position of Centre Director. She continues to put into practise and build on Petit’s strong child-centred values.
“My goal is to create an environment where all children and families feel valued, supported, respected and loved. To embed real and true life values into our everyday practices and program.”
Petit ELJ values include:
- Recognising and valuing each child
- Supporting the discovery of each child’s unique personality
- Encouraging parental input and feedback
- Communicating in ways that promote a sense of belonging and assurance
Centre Directors at Petit ELJ are encouraged to bring their own personalities into child care. Kate has certainly expanded on those core values in a number of ways.
Teaching the little things
“The vision we have here at Hamilton is that children learn to respect, embrace and accept the differences between us all. It’s at the core of what makes Petit ELJ Hamilton fascinating. We teach children the basics such as manners – saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’”
Such a simple thing can make a real difference in a child’s life as they mature. Children learn how to respect themselves and each other.
“It’s a skill we’re often lacking as adults and we receive such positive feedback from parents when their children bring those manners home. We can all benefit from slowing down and becoming more mindful. Sometimes we can get so caught up in the routine we overlook the little things.”
Appreciating our differences
Learning to accept and embrace individual differences is another important part of life for children at Petit ELJ Hamilton.
“We have a child who uses a walker to get around the yard. She has different needs to the other children, so we’ve taught them how to interact and play ball with her in the yard. They’ve learnt how to see past the walking frame and accept her for who she is.”
Doing it themselves
Kate believes that, as adults, we often underestimate the ability of children.
“We can tend to put our own insecurities on them. We watch them climb and wait for them to fall instead of letting them work out how to climb.”
Fostering this type of learning environment is key at Petit ELJ Hamilton, as children are quick learners and more competent than we give them credit for.
“We stand back and watch a child. We’ll never help without asking because that would take away their empowerment. If we just let them try and work things out for themselves without jumping in and doing it for them, the child will feel they’ve accomplished something. We can learn so much about each child by just watching.”
Out in the community
Throughout the entire process, child care should be about building resilient, resourceful, confident, little learners – children who are ready for the world outside.
Petit Hamilton ELJ works with both the young and elderly of the community. As sponsors of the Little Squirts under 5’s football team (part of Virginia United Football Club), they run the BBQ on Saturday match days, help out at other club events and provide the team with their own (very small) football shirts.
The centre is also building relationships with aged care facilities in the hope of holding weekly day trips and morning teas.
“Some of our children don’t have grandparents and some of the elderly folk don’t have, or don’t see their families. Each could learn so much from the other.”
Working with parents
Led by Kate, the team at Petit Hamilton ELJ builds strong, caring relationships with parents that continue to grow for many years as their child transitions.
“We’re an extension of the family not a replacement. We work collaboratively with parents and follow their cues. Our parents know they are appreciated and that we value their input. We don’t interfere and tell parents what the child needs or put unnecessary pressure on them. A lot of parents already feel guilty about having to go to work. Our role is to nourish and assist them, provide feedback and support, encouragement and guidance.”
Come for a visit
The team at Petit ELJ Hamilton knows that families want to look around before they choose the perfect place for their child.
“We appreciate that people may have visited five or six centres before choosing us. When that happens, it’s such a privilege. A centre should make you feel warm and welcomed, just like I felt when I walked through the door on that first day. We want families to feel a part of our family.”
To find out more about Petit Hamilton’s unique early learning program, please book a tour to come and meet our wonderful team and check out our beautiful facilities.