Tag Archives: childcare

The Assessment and Rating Process… What does it really achieve?

Recently Capalaba went through their 2nd A&R since opening in 2013.  During the first A&R we received an Exceeding rating and also applied and successfully achieved the Excellent Rating, as icing on the cake, an achievement that the team should be very proud of. As notification came through for our 2nd round of A&R in August I wondered to myself; Who will be the assessor? What will they be looking for? Will they be nice? What little things will they pick us up on?

 

As the Nominated Supervisor, I know my team, I know the service, the families, the children and I knew that our service most definitely operated each and every day as Exceeding the National Quality Standards, but that was just my opinion, what if the assessors opinion was different?

 

Then it really hit me, it really is just one person’s opinion on what they see over a very small window of time. Yes, there are guidelines that need to be followed and minimum standards to be met, but what makes a centre meeting or exceeding? Who decides what exceeding looks like? How does the assessor know that what they see on those few short days are in fact a typical day and not something staged, something that educators took hours upon hours to ‘create’ because of A&R.

 

What if centres pretended to be something else, something that is not a fluid, and authentic process? How can assessors really know fake from authentic?

 

These were some of the questions going through my head in the lead up to the big week.

 

This was my first time as a Nominated Supervisor going through A&R so for me personally I felt a lot of pressure to support my team, keep them calm and relaxed through the whole process, whilst I quietly rocked back and forth on my office floor.

 

As part of the process each service needs to provide the Department of Education a Quality Improvement Plan (QIP), which outlines how a service operates, the policies, procedures, curriculum, relationships with families, relationships with children etc. The QIP is a living document that showcases everything that we do and why; updating our QIP just reinforced for me how amazing our service is. The information that was documented, the photos, the reflections we had as a team, with families, even with our children, were all recorded and as clear as day, it was evident that this service without a doubt is Exceeding regardless of one person’s opinion.  

 

Once I had sent through our QIP I felt instant relief, why? Because I decided not to worry anymore, not to stress, that whatever the outcome I was proud of our team, proud of our practices and I knew that what we were doing was best for our children and families, and that really is all that matters.

 

A&R week came and went, with the team doing what they do each day, nothing really changed, expect perhaps for a few extra nerves.  I thought to myself, surely there has to be a better way, something that is less invasive and more authentic?

 

As a service we focus on the process rather than the end result, we understand that the learning happening during is more relevant then seeing the results at the end. So shouldn’t we as a sector be looking at this for our own rating system?? Wouldn’t the assessors see more authentic practices if they conducted regular checks on services, unannounced, throughout the year and saw the progress of services over time, rather than quickly mashed together over a couple of days?   

 

Overall, I really feel that there is too much emphasis put on the Assessment and Rating process, I still don’t feel that there is a national standard with many networking groups finding the same practices happening, yet different results. I know many services that are Meeting that I truly feel should be Exceeding, I also know services that are rating Exceeding and I scratch my head, perhaps I am missing something, who knows.

 

Here’s what I do know though, our families and children are happy with our service, the team, that I am extremely privileged to work alongside, give their all, and we are always advocating for the rights of the child, for children to have the best possible opportunities whilst in our care.  If our families, children and educators are happy and supportive, what more could I ask for?

 

 

As a side note, we did receive an Exceeding rating, congratulations to everyone that is a part of our Eskay Kids Capalaba community.   

 

Suzette Lageman

Director

Eskay Kids Capalaba

Exploring music at Eskay

Exploring music.

Music can make us feel a whole range of emotions and can break through all kinds of barriers. It can make us laugh or cry, it can help us to sleep or wake us up. It can even help us to learn about all sorts of new things. Music is an amazing tool when used correctly.

In the Kookaburra room we have been exploring music and how it makes us feel. We started by using relaxation music at rest time to relax the children and help them sleep. Before long we were introducing music into more activities. We started with a lot of Moana and Frozen (‘Let It Go’ is still as popular as ever) as well as other dancing music and the children danced up a storm. For a few months they danced away, often requesting their favourite songs to sing and dance to. Since then we have introduced music from other cultures. We started with some traditional Irish music which was soon followed by Indian, German, Aboriginal and music from the Torres Strait Islands. But why stop there? The children love Waltzing Matilda, Elvis (don’t we all), TNT and the Trolls soundtrack just to name of a few of the genres we have begun to explore. 

music

I would like to take this moment to share a story with you about how music can break barriers. One afternoon the girls were all out dancing up a storm and some of the boys, who had never shown a interest in dancing before, started to look over at them, watching them dancing and slowly over a few weeks I noticed the boys coming closer and closer to where we were dancing and before I knew it they had started to join in. For the first few times the boys stayed amongst themselves, not joining the girls in dancing before one of the boys started dancing with one of the girls and before long I had all these children dancing together, not a care in the world who they were dancing with, just enjoying the fact they were dancing with their friends. It was amazing to watch music break down these barriers the boys had of dancing only being for girls to not only join in but now days they are normally the first up for a dance party.

Music is amazing and helps break so many barriers but it can also help start bonds, give a common ground and what more could you ask for then that? It has been amazing to watch the children grow, break through barriers and build bonds with other people using such a simple tool. I honestly can’t wait to see what more music has to teach us about ourselves and about the people around us.

Brooke Lovell

Karana Early Education Centre

Reflections on the transition to school

By this time of year many parents have already chosen the school their child will attend while others are still undecided whether or not their child will be ready for this next transition. Research has consistently shown that a smooth transition greatly helps the child to manage this change. Their experience of the early grades at school will colour the rest of their academic life. How can you as parents and we as an educational community support this transition?

 

Any opportunity for your child to visit the school, meet the teachers and get to know the expectations of Prep will be helpful. Many schools have playgroups, information days or evenings, open days and other opportunities to take your child to the school and support their familiarity with the teachers, environment and other children. These opportunities are also an excellent way for you to start to meet teachers and other parents, helping you to create networks to support your child.

 

Depending on the school you choose for your child/ren you, as parents may have many opportunities to help familiarise your child with their next learning environment .Do they have a Fete coming up? Is there a fundraising event you could attend? What about swimming lessons or other sporting activities such as Little Athletics or Karate that may be held in the school grounds? The school’s website will have information and contacts for finding out what formal and informal transition processes are available.

 

For those children attending After School Hours Care it will be helpful to visit the premises with your child and meet the staff and other children. Will they have to catch a bus or be collected to get to OSHC? What school holiday activities are available?

 

All over Queensland schools are being encouraged to actively reach out to the community, especially the Early Childhood Community to form collaborative partnerships that will support smooth transition processes for children starting the Prep year. If you have concerns about your child’s readiness for school these collaborative relationships can help to support your decision making process.

Schools will listen to your concerns and may or may not support a delayed entry to Prep where appropriate. The sooner they hear your worries, the earlier they can act to support your child.

 

Here at Springfield Child Care and Early Education Centre we have been active partners collaborating with local schools to enhance the transition process. We have hosted visits from three schools and have attended Information Meetings with local schools. We have written reports and communicated by phone for individual children. An exciting development is being involved in the initiation of the Greater Springfield Early Childhood Network. Through this collaborative partnership we can network with local schools and service providers to enhance communication and understanding of how each educational facility works to support each other.

 

At the end of each year as an Approved Kindergarten Program we provide for each child a Transition Report based on the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline. These are an invaluable resource for your child’s Prep teachers. We also provide the Portfolio of the learning journey of your child at our centre. At a recent Network meeting the schools were unanimous in their enthusiasm to read these documents as they are such helpful resources.

 

As I look back over the last two decades and reflect on the many changes I have witnessed in the Early Childhood Education and Care Sector I must conclude that the openness of schools to engage with parents and community to support the Transition to Prep is one of the most heartening.

 

Written by Kate Shapcott

Kindergarten Teacher

Eskay Kids Springfield

Building Positive Relationships in Child Care

When a child starts child care for the first time, moves to a new centre or if they suffer from separation anxiety, emotions can run high for all parties involved, the child, the parent and the educators. To help children transition into the new care environment we must implement strategies to help ease the stress of the situation.

positive relationships

Through observations and reflective conversations, the educators came to the understanding that the toddlers, especially new children, were becoming overwhelmed with big emotions when the room was busy and loud. In our Kookaburra Room (15 months-2 1/2years) an important strategy we now have in place is ensuring we provide a calm and quiet environment to help overcome this concern.

building

We realised that children will naturally connect with some educators better than others, so we have used this information as a tool in assisting children whenever they need comforting. This could be helping the child cope at drop off time, if they hurt themselves, or even just changing their nappy. We have found the consistency of care is really beneficial for the children, as they build a positive relationship with the educator. Through having a positive relationship, an educator is able to join the child’s Circle of Security.

As each child is individual, we try a variety of settling ideas, this may include:

  • Singing
  • Reading
  • Sensory activities
  • Getting their bed out so they have a safe place
  • Looking at our animals, Rosie the chicken and Squirtle the turtle
  • The sandpit
  • Getting their sibling(if applicable) to play with them
  • Sitting with an educator in a quiet place and talking about what the children are doing in other areas of  the environment or just having that physical closeness
  • Finding an interest based activity

Or it could be as simple as establishing a drop off routine such as sitting down at the table to have breakfast or morning tea.

To help children feel like they belong and that they are in a safe and secure environment we will try all of the previously mentioned techniques and more. However, if parents feel apprehensive about leaving their children, these strategies will rarely be successful. This is why it is vitally important to continually strive to build positive relationships with the families, so they too can have their own sense of belonging in our service. We have learnt children will respond positively toward us when parents do.

Written by Sallyanne Hill and Peta Doyle

Toddler Room

Karana Early Education Centre