G8 Education early learning centres bring smiles to children in hospital this Easter

Everyone deserves a bit of joy at Easter, so on Monday 3 April Sydney’s Greenwood Early Learning Centres and Smiles2U brought the Easter Bunny to children staying at WISE Specialist Emergency Clinic, Northern Beaches Hospital and Royal North Shore Hospital.

Smiles2U create packages to deliver to children in hospital to keep them entertained and bring joy to their day. The packages can include activity books, little toys, teddy bears, stickers and colouring pencils but this Easter weekend Smiles2U is playing Easter Bunny.

Greenwood is part of the G8 Education network, one of Australia’s largest providers of early childhood education and care, focused on its purpose of creating the foundations for learning for life.

In the lead up to Easter, children at Greenwood Early Learning Centres across Sydney have been collecting Easter Eggs to donate to the local hospitals.

Greenwood Early Learning Centre Area Manager Rhiannon Nohra said that the centres wanted to give back to their community this Easter and collaborating with Smiles2U was a perfect way to get their children involved.

“Supporting these hospitals is very close to our heart as they’re the local hospitals for many of our children and families,” Ms Nohra said.

“In giving back this Easter, we wanted to encourage and teach our children to give back to their community. They found it very empowering to know that they are helping their peers, and the fact that they got to help them with chocolate was an added bonus.

“Our children have all been loving this experience! We hear them chatting about it to their parents in the foyer and one of our centres has even set up a station to make cards to go along with the Easter Eggs,” she said.

Smiles2U Founder Michelle Key said that aligning themselves with an established company like Greenwood Early Learning Centres was a brilliant opportunity.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the number of eggs donated by the Greenwood Early Learning Centres,” Ms Key said.

“Smiles2U is a registered charity. We have no corporate sponsorships and rely solely on donations so receiving this support from Greenwood Early Learning Centre’s is so appreciated.

“Smiles2U was created by a group of mums because we all had experience of our children being in hospital. We know that a lot of patience, distraction and ideas are needed to keep a young child comfortable in hospital, so we try to ease the burden with our packs.

“Families are always so amazed and overwhelmed when they receive our packages. It makes all the hard work we do worth it knowing the difference we have made for them in a place no one wants to be.”

Smiles2U supports 13 hospitals with care packages, smiles bags, cancer care packs and comfort for those who find themselves in hospitals unexpectedly.

If you would like to donate to Smiles2U, head to the Smiles2U website where you can donate or pay it forward by buying a bag of their Easter gingerbread.

G8 Education educator named Gold Coast’s favourite early learning professional

Kool Kids Early Learning Ashmore’s lead educator Bec Whiting has been named as the Gold Coast’s favourite early learning professional by Gold Coast Bulletin readers.

The Labrador resident has lived in the Gold Coast her whole life and has worked in childcare for almost 40 years. From school she wanted to pursue the passion for teaching young children she discovered when helping with the creche at her local church.

Now a valued lead educator at Kool Kids Early Learning Ashmore, Ms Whiting said that Kool Kids was her home away from home.

“I’ve worked at Kool Kids for almost 12 years, it’s small and homely and I love it. Even on my holidays I still pop in to see my children and the team. They ask me why I’m there and I simply reply that I just love it.

“I work in the nursery room and I’m very passionate about giving the babies all the comfort and affection they need to feel settled as well as reassuring the parents because it’s often the first time they are leaving their child.

“I like to build relationships with the families, get to know them and send them lots of photos of their babies so they can see they’re enjoying socialising with other children and exploring their world,” she said.

“Sometimes families will arrive with the children still in pyjamas and juggling a million things at once and they apologise so I like to be that support who can say to them, ‘it’s ok, don’t worry, I can do this for you’.”

Ms Whiting used to run a playgroup for single mums 13 years ago. There, she was able to support mothers who were often quite nervous on their parenting journeys.

“I loved talking to the mums and helping them where I could. It was so rewarding to see them come back and feel more comfortable with motherhood. I’m still in contact with them and some of their children are now adults with their own children. I love forming those relationships.

“I don’t expect to receive things in this job, I do it for the children and the families, but receiving the recognition that I’ve helped means the world.”
It was through nurturing these family relationships that Ms Whiting learnt she had been named as the Gold Coast’s favourite early learning professional.

“One of the parents messaged me privately and said congratulations. I didn’t know what she was talking about until she forwarded me the link and I just burst into tears. I cried all day because I felt so loved.

“My colleague Kim and I were just screaming and jumping up and down with excitement. I even got emails from current and former parents saying that they couldn’t vote but wanted to and were so happy I won.

“I really can’t explain how it all made me feel, it’s just a beautiful feeling knowing that families that used to come here still think of me. I feel privileged and loved and it’s so special.”

Ms Whiting sums up her average day at Kool Kids with the word “sweaty”.

Her day starts at 6:30am to set up and organise the Zen Garden next to the baby’s room. Then the children arrive, have breakfast and the day does not stop until 2:30pm when Ms Whiting goes home.

“We try to follow the baby’s routine as much as possible and the parents tell me what they would like. So, when there are four babies in a room and potentially four different routines, you’re never sitting down.”

Ms Whiting said that her experiences in the sector have definitely changed over the years.

“When I was an assistant educator, I didn’t see the paperwork side because I was too busy playing! Once I became a lead, I got to be a lot more involved with the children and helping them grow.

“The sector is just going to keep getting better. I love mentoring the younger educators here. We make this bond and I want to see them grow, explain things to them and give them encouragement that they can do anything they want to. A lot of people I’ve mentored are lead educators now and I’m so proud of them.”

Kool Kids is part of G8 Education and is one of more than 430 early learning centres around the country offering quality early learning education and care.

G8 Education Regional Manager Kylie Van Der Stok said that they were so proud of Ms Whiting for the award .

“It’s wonderful to see Bec’s ongoing dedication to early learning recognised in this way.

“At a time when we are wanting to attract more educators to the sector, it’s great to emphasise what really makes this work so special – making connections with children and families that create the foundations for learning for life.”

Kindy Patch Clarinda named in top 8 per cent of Australian early learning services

One of G8’s early learning centre, Kindy Patch Clarinda, has joined an elite club of Australia’s top eight per cent of early learning services*, after receiving “Exceeding” in all seven quality areas from the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) in a recent assessment.

“I am so proud of the high-quality education and care my team provides our children and families every day, so it is wonderful for that to be recognised in this way,” said Kindy Patch Clarinda Centre Manager, Pavi De Alwis.

Early child education and care services are assessed and rated by their state and territory regulatory authority against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS), ranging from “Exceeding” down to “Significant Improvement Required.”

Of the 17,000 early learning services operating under the National Quality Framework in Australia, only 1 in 12 have equalled Kindy Patch Clarinda’s result.

Ms De Alwis said it is her dedicated team and child-focussed centre culture that has led to the success.

“Our best practice is how we foster strong relationships with the children in our care and plan and support experiences which are child-led and initiated,” she said.        

“We listen to our children’s voices by running indoor and outdoor play and providing progressive meals which take into consideration and respect children’s needs and wants. 

“This is very important aspect of our service as we always take children’s input when planning their day.”

The centre’s practices have also been influenced by the needs and expectations of its broader centre community.

“To promote collaboration with our families, we created the community panel which allows everyone to share ideas and stay informed about how we are working to improve their children’s learning and development.

“I would like to continue to expand our community involvement by engaging in more social events that promote opportunities for our children, families and teams to learn and connect.”

“You walk into Kindy Patch Clarinda and you get a sense of community and calm thanks to the team’s approach to planning and family engagement,” said Area Manager Sarah Schwab.

“It is wonderful for the team’s hard work and dedication to be recognised in this way and it should fill the local community with confidence that they are receiving the highest quality education and care at our centre.”

If you like to learn more about Kindy Patch Clarinda visit the website, book a personalised tour online or call 1800 517 052.

New year, new transitions! G8 Education shares how they support children with change

Transitions happen to everyone, every day, every week, every month, and every year. They are an integral part of our lives and can be major or minor. Just like you, children may welcome transitions and change, or they might be reluctant or hesitant.

At G8 Education, our educators and teachers ensure that children are supported when they face challenges during transitions, to make children and families feel safe and secure.  Here’s how.

Mealtimes


Progressive mealtimes are becoming more common in early childhood settings. At G8 Education, we provide children with greater choice, more freedom and respect to make decisions about when they are ready to eat and what they would like to eat. This helps them become capable and competent in making decisions about their own health and well-being. When it comes to approaching mealtimes, rather than interrupting or stopping children from their play and learning, our educators and teachers tend to give the children time to finish their work or encourage them to revisit their play after eating.

Rest Times


When it comes to rest times, our educators and teachers often reflect upon whether children are given choices about their rest, or are governed by other factors. Involving young children in preparing for sleep by setting up their beds enables children to be more autonomous and take ownership of their routine times. Children who do not require sleep should be offered an alternative in which their bodies are able to rest.

Changing Rooms


When a child is moving up to the next room, they may be excited and nervous at the same time. Our educators and teachers aim to make transitions smooth and successful for the child and family. At G8’s early learning centres, we prepare the children by providing them opportunities to build relationships with the educators in the next room in a planned way. The educators usually start by visiting the room to build relationships. The child then can start visits to the next room, slowly building up positive relationships with the children and educators in the room and becoming familiar with the routines within the room.

Taking time to gradually transition children respectfully and in collaboration with them and their families, has a positive outcome for all.

Other significant transitions that happen in a child’s life may include moving house, the birth of a new sibling or the separation of parents. These changes can have an enormous impact on their lives and their families’ lives, so it is important to consider how families and carers can work together with the child’s early learning centre during this time.

For more information and tips on how to support children through changes, transitions, and unexpected events click here.

References:

Umina Child Care Centre, Umina, Central Coast of NSW. Transitions between groups, setting and Beyond Case Study 1. Early Childhood Australia. Retrieved 4th January 2022.

Footscray Nicholson Children’s Centre. Victoria University. Transitions between groups, setting and Beyond Case Study 2. Early Childhood Australia. Retrieved 4th January 2022. TransitionsBetweenGroupsSettingsAndBeyond-CaseStudy2.pdf

MLC Kindle, Transitions between groups, setting and Beyond Case Study 3. Early Childhood Australia retrieved 28th February 2022. TransitionBetweenGroupsSettingsAndBeyond-CaseStudy3.pdf

DEEWR, Continuity of Learning and Transitions. Educators Belonging, Being and Becoming. 2010. Pages 36-38.

Webinars

ECE online webinar: Understanding and enhancing young children’s transitions – YouTube  

G8 announces 2022 National Standout Educator Award winners

This is Juliet Davis’ second time winning the Sustainability award for the environmentally friendly practices she has embedded at Great Beginnings Secret Harbour.

“I am thrilled to once again be recognized for the work that I do in the area of sustainability – my greatest passion in life,” said Ms Davis.

“It is so incredibly rewarding to educate these young minds and teach them the importance of caring for our planet and all of the fascinating creatures that live alongside us.”

Sustainability underpins everything we do at G8 Education because we care about protecting childhoods for today and tomorrow.

This comes to life in our corporate approach but also on microlevels in our centres and community leadership.

“I have created a lengthy Sustainability Management plan for our service, with short, medium and long term sustainability goals, with the aim to reduce energy waste, water waste, food waste and focus on incorporating these into our program,” she said.

“We make upcycled gifts for families, we have recycling monsters for the children to feed plastic, paper, and cardboard, a resource centre filled with recycled items to be used for art and crafts as well as a worm farm and composting centre, just to name a few.

“I see no limit on what we can do as a sector to care for the environment and to reduce our impact on the planet.”

Our Educators and Teachers are shaping our future citizens, which is why community engagement and developing active members of society is so important.

Our Community Engagement winner for 2022, Jade Steley said providing opportunities for those connections has never been more important than in a post-Covid world.

“After spending way too much time at home, indoors and closed off from the world with my own children, I made it my mission when I returned to work to get children back outside, back in nature and back into the community.”

Jade Steeley from Creative Garden Coombabah exploring bush kindy with children

In the past 12 months, the children in the Kindy Room at Creative Garden Coombabah have enjoyed countless excursions including a barista masterclass at Zarrafas Coffee, shopping at Bunnings for their kitchen garden project, regular bush kinder explorations and donating items to local op shops.

“The varied interactions you can experience while out in the community is so critical in developing children’s social and communication skills.

“COVID-19 restrictions took that opportunity away from these children, so I feel I have a responsibility to give them as many opportunities as I can.”

Congratulations to all our award winners, and to all our Educators and Teachers across Australia who make an impact in children’s lives every day.