A Heartfelt Letter to Families

By Narelle Nettlebeck.

Dear Families,

I see you. You work hard. You want the best for your child. You miss them while they are in care and hope that they are happy and well cared for in your absence.

I am a parent too, currently of two teens! I’m also an educator.  I can see Education and Care from the perspective of both family and educator.

As a parent, I want to know that my child is safe and happy. I want to know the details of their day. As an educator, I am working with tight ratios, I’m busy meeting the children’s needs as well as meeting compliance expectations, it’s a tough job!

This letter is to ask you to be realistic with your expectations regarding your child’s care.

What you should expect

Educators to care about your child, speaking respectfully, aiming to meet their individual needs and care requirements. Educators should work with you and communicate regularly about this. This is best done verbally when you drop off/collect your child, but emails and app messages are handy too.

Your child’s health and safety to be a priority. All care should be taken to supervise and keep your child safe from harm. Accidents may happen, but staff should be able to tell you what happened and how they tried to prevent the accident from occurring.

Your child may come home a bit grubby after a fun day of play, but they should have a clean nappy, clean nose and be dressed suitably for the weather. You may have to help your child locate their drink bottle and probably their shoes and socks if they have been discarded in play, but all other belongings should be in your child’s bag.

Collaboration with the service regarding a program for your child – this does not necessarily mean daily photos and/or journals or portfolios, but rather your expertise in setting realistic goals and experiences along with the educator to support your child’s learning and development.

Collaboration includes meeting milestones like toilet training. You should expect your service to work with you and to try to follow your routines etc, but you should not expect educators to toilet train your child for you. This needs to be started and supported at home. You should also expect a lot of accidents. Many children find it harder to use the toilet away from home and there are also many distractions when they are in care.

Learning through play. Education and Care is NOT school. We do have a curriculum to follow and we encourage children to work towards outcomes, but the early years are play based and child focussed. Your child will learn through play but please don’t expect flashcards, worksheets or reading homework, this is not what early education and care is designed for. Education and Care focusses on development, including behaviour, self-regulation and life skills. These areas are much more important than knowing all of the alphabet and being able to read by 4. We send our children to school for formal education and academic endeavour.

What might happen in your service

You might have daily photos posted via an app or a Facebook group you might even see photos printed in a daily journal, but please note that this is OPTIONAL and not an area of compliance for the service. Please note that every time a photo or comment taken and posted, this has been done by an educator who is then not supervising or interacting with the children. This adds pressure to the staff and children. I know this is lovely for you, but please know that it comes at a cost.

Services must display the daily menu, perhaps take a look at this each day so you know what will be offered to your child. This will avoid the need for educators to send you that photo of your child at lunch or afternoon tea. Of course, touch base and ask if your child has actually eaten through the day, but ‘what’ they were offered is already covered for you.

You should aim to work as closely as you can with your service to provide quality education and care for your child. You absolutely should expect your child to be cared for and kept safe and you absolutely should expect information about your child’s care and progress. Please just keep in mind, that educators are stretched to the limit with compliance expectations as well as caring for every child individually. It is important that your expectations are fair and reasonable and don’t add extra pressure to the team.

If you would like more information about compliance in Education and Care, simply head to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).

Education and Care National Law and Regulations:
National Law and Regulations | ACECQA

National Quality Standards:
National Quality Standard | ACECQA

From my family to yours,

Narelle xx