Speaker 1: Thank you for joining our podcast, this as an education podcast and we’re focusing on our national quality standards. Now the national quality framework, which is also known as the NQF, regulates most early childhood education and care services in Australia and applies to kindergarten, long daycare, outside school hours care, and family daycare services. Now Kid’s Capers, there’s a chain of childcare centres. We’ve got experts from the respective Kids Capers and a number of them have achieved what is regarded as a standard of exceeding.
Speaker 1: We’re going to find out what that means and why that might be important if you’re looking at childcare centres. We’re currently in North Lakes Kids Capers childcare centre. We have taken over their lunch room, I believe it is, and we’ve turned it into a podcast studio. So stay with us and we’ll start off by getting some introductions so that you can meet who you’re going to be listening to throughout this podcast. We’ll start with you Terri.
Terri: Hi, I’m Terri and I’m currently the centre manager of the Elimbah Kids Capers.
Speaker 1: And Tammy.
Tammy: Hi, I’m Tammy and I’m the centre manager of our Sandgate Service.
Speaker 1: And Kristy.
Kristy: I’m Kristy, I’m manager of North Lakes and support a few other centres in the area as well.
Speaker 1: Okay. And Kylee.
Kylee: And I’m the support manager for five of the Kids Capers centres including Elimbah, Sandgate, North Lakes, Mango Hill and Wamuran.
Speaker 1: And finally Janessa.
Janessa: Hi, I’m Janessa and I’m the centre manager of our Clayfield centre.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Look, first of all, Kylee, considering that you overlook a number of the childcare centres, can you just explain a little bit about what the term “exceeding” means when it comes to child care centres?
Kylee: Exceeding to us is, well in the industry, means that we are above and beyond what is expected from the regulatory authority and the families that come to the service and everyone involved. So your aim as a centre and it as a company is to, you’re aiming for that exceeding theme.
Speaker 1: And for a parent that is looking at their options, should they care about what level it’s got as far as the framework goes?
Kylee: I think as a parent it’s important that they know and they understand that’s what drives what we do. And it’s how we build our philosophies for our centres. I think as an industry it’s an it’s important as a family coming in, I think it’s also important that they just get to know the centres individually and educators that are there. So probably more so from inside the industry than out.
Speaker 1: We definitely want to come back to that and talk a little bit more about the educators because Kids Capers very much focuses on, and I’ve heard this tagline quite a bit, dedicated educators, but a, Terri, can you just take us through the process of achieving, exceeding for your childcare centre?
Terri: See it is an ongoing and long process and it takes dedication by centre managers and there are seven quality areas and I found little and huge benchmarks that you have to meet. And it takes a lot of time to break those down into how it benefits our children, how it benefits our community and how it benefits our staff. So when you’re looking at at a really large number of quotas to kind of meet and how each one of our stakeholders has a place in that, that’s a long commitment. Like if it was three years between ratings and assessments for these guys, and to go from a meeting to an exceeding is a fantastic achievement and anyone in the industry and families should definitely take note of that.
Terri: But anyone in the industry knows the things they’re looking for and how difficult it can be and how committed your staff have to be to making the centre function and making our children and families happy. So it is a big process and it’s such a relief and such an amazing feeling when you do get that exceeding rating comeback.
Kylee: And we’re always working towards continuous improvement. So that’s our motto. So every time, even when we get or meet those exceeding moments, we’re still looking towards continuous improvement. Yeah.
Speaker 1: So we’re starting to talk a little bit about culture, so if we can look at not only the overall culture of the Kids Capers as an umbrella, but if we can just have a bit of a discussion and a chat about the culture within each of the centres, so, I’ll start with you, Terri, if you can just, in your own words, tell us about when you turn up to Kids Capers and you’re in the middle of it with your other educators. What would, how would you describe the culture?
Terri: A family I would describe the culture as. We’re just a little tiny community, a little centre and yeah, we just look at ourselves as one big family.
Speaker 1: And Tammy, I just saw you nodding your head there. Would you say that’s exactly the same for your centre or do you have some differences from one centre to the other?
Tammy: Absolutely. So we’re very lucky that we get to run our centres, to cater for our community and our families while we have the same goal of the children’s needs. So we’re able to do that. But we definitely are all about our families, all about our children, the needs within our service, at our service, we’re very lucky with an iconic building within our community so people know who we are before they actually realise that we’re now an early childhood facility.
Tammy: But yeah, I definitely agree with Terri with we are community based. We have very much a second home for a lot of our families. We’re also a really big support system for them. Some of our families don’t have that support and then that is actually what we become to them. So yeah, we’re actually quite important to them as well. So.
Speaker 1: So with that in mind, when you see a child that comes to you for the very first time and then you watch that journey, do you get attached to that journey?
Terri: Yeah. We’ve had children from six weeks now going off to school. So yeah, it’s definitely a big.
Speaker 1: And Janessa, what about you? What’s the culture of your childcare centre that you’re involved with?
Janessa: We’re a kind of beats centre and we were the first Kids Capers and it’s really great to see that we’ve had families that started in the nursery. They’ve progressed through to school and then we’ve had two, three, sometimes four siblings come back through the centre. They’re getting the same educators again. So it’s all these familiar faces were already familiar with the families. They’re bringing their friends along, they’re bringing their neighbours along. So everyone, even though we are quite a big centre, everyone still knows everybody there.
Speaker 1: Is that, Kylee, yeah, go for it.
Kylee: And coming from North Lakes, as well, which is another one of our services that is quite large. It takes a lot of work to make a big centre feel small, and there are a lot of big centres that don’t have that homey community kind of feel, so, to be able to generate that with, with consistent educators and a programme and just reliability that families expect of you is an achievement within itself. So.
Speaker 1: And, Kylee, from a perspective of looking at a number of cultures, you’re going from Clayfield to when Wamuran, you’re going from, you can look into the inner city from Clayfield and then you’ve got a very rural setting at Elimbah and Wamuran, do you see the very different cultures as you get across those centres?
Kylee: Absolutely. Absolutely. So there’s a different demographic, obviously for each centre. And I think that the managers have had, found a really good way to be inputting into their own communities. Yeah.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Now, for you, Kristy, looking at the process that you take, we hear a lot about the childhood, the ages that you guys are working with them. That’s the most developmental period of their lives that can set them up for success or five year as they move into primary school, high school, university, and then enter their careers. What are some of the things that you do to ensure that you are making sure that those children are set up the best way possible for their future?
Kristy: So I think first and foremost, and especially if you’re bringing really little guys in, which is sometimes a really nerve wracking experience for first time parents, for parents in general is to make the family comfortable. ‘Cause if mom or dad is comfortable and everyone’s calm dropping off then we know that that filters through to the child. So we start with that really comfortable level.
Kristy: It’s all about relationship building. It’s all about play. I know there’s a lot of focus and push on education but there’s a lot of learning and education to be done in play, and it’s fundamentally for Kids Capers, it is learning through play and we find that we create lifelong learners when we weave that stuff that they need to know for prep and all those big challenges that our head, if we put that in a play based environment, studies, research shows that it pays off in the long run. So it’s about taking the pressure off learning and making that learning fun, making it interactive, making it child invested. It’s got to start there when you’re looking at care. ‘Cause if it’s too focused and too stringent, too early than children really lose focus on that. And by the time they get to prep it’s a real battle.
Kristy: So it’s about being play based and it’s about being authentic with what children need at each stage. And when they arrive at our centre.
Speaker 1: Again, Tammy is nodding her head and going, yes, yes, yes. Play based learning. Can you explain what that is?
Tammy: So it’s opposite of what formal learning is because in everything that we do, children will learn. You go to the supermarket, you see how much the fruit costs. So that’s actually learning there. That’s your numeracy. And that’s every day experiences, so, the children actually are learning when they’re just going to the supermarket. So we try and set up experiences and provocations for the children so that where their interest takes them, they will then explore that. And then it develops from there. So then our educators are trained to look at what the children are looking at and then to offer more experiences to then extend the child.
Tammy: Ultimately in an ideal world, we offer lots of opportunities for the children to develop at their own rate. We don’t put children in boxes. We actually look at what the child, where each child is at, and then offer a variety of opportunities. So.
Speaker 1: Talking about diversity of children that are attending, Janessa, Clayfield is a big centre, and, again, you look at the structure of it, it’s you can see the work that’s been done to make it appear small to that child that might be attending. How do you deal with the diversity when you look at play based learning, how do you deal with the diversity as those children are growing up and they may change their patents as to how they learn?
Janessa: I think where we’re strong in Clayfield is our environment, so we are a big centre, but we have three sort of individual centres within that big centre. So we have buildings that are catered for our zero to two. We have buildings that are catered for our two to three, and then we’ve got our kindergarten facilities as well. Everyone can kind of interact with each other’s facilities, but they are designed, the environments are designed around supporting those children at that stage and we allow them to move through those buildings and through of those environments in their own rate and at their own developmental stage.
Speaker 1: Kylee, Kids Capers takes children as young as six weeks all the way through to school age. What are some of the things a parent that maybe is, or is an expecting parent even? What are some of the things that they can do maybe in preparation when it comes to child care?
Kylee: So we always encourage our parents, particularly with the younger children that can’t talk to them to come and get to know us before they, so lots of play dates, sitting on the floor with the educators in the room, seeing how they react and respond to different situations as they go. We know when families bring their brand new little babies in it’s mum and dad we’ve got to worry about most of all, the babies are fine, they’re very resilient. They don’t know that things have changed or things are different. They don’t have a concept of time or place. But mum and dad do and they get very anxious about it. So we really just focus on their needs first and foremost.
Speaker 1: And Terri, you say to children as they’re progressing through and they’re just about to transition to primary school or prep, what are some of the things that Kids Capers does to ensure that that transition is as smooth as possible and successful?
Terri: Well, we at my centre is actually located right next to the Limbus School. So we have a lot of play date, not applied dates, but, yeah, step into prep for example, where the kids go over, they go to the library. My teacher works closely with the prep teachers over there. So she’s designed her programme around what the teachers are looking for when the preps are coming into the next year. So what skills-
Speaker 1: So do each of the other centres take that same approach? Is there any variation on it?
Terri: Yeah, we have a really great relationship with our prep coordinator, Lynette, over a Bounty Boulevard. So our kids are pretty much the same. They go over to the prep in fourth term, it gets really exciting because they get to visit the classrooms and it’s, yeah, it’s about building that excitement. You don’t want it to be a nerve wracking experience for our little guys cause change can be hard, and it’s just about making them so excited, so ready to go there and just really keen to go and show off their skills that they’ve learned with us. So, and we have really great feedback from the prep teachers.
Terri: Then our kids are resilient, they’re confident, they’re great social, have great social empathy, and we do some of the concepts that they have over at school, like the high five system were put in place in our preschool room so that they’re not going and everything’s brand new. They’re going and there’s that level of consistency, that level of familiarity and it’s just another, a big, huge adventure where they get to play and be themselves somewhere else. S
Kylee: And they also get to practise their road safety getting over there, how to lose the bubbler, how to open the toilet door, all those things you don’t think about when you’re sending your child off to school. So they get to do that stuff first. So by the time they get there, they’re quite confident and ready to go.
Speaker 1: Does anybody else have any sort of maybe random comments towards parents that are listening to this right now and maybe thinking, “Oh gee, I need to do something in relation to child care,” because circumstances change too. It may not be at six weeks old. Sometimes the second parent decides to go back into the workforce at a period of time. They may be apprehensive about whether they can part with their child. Is there anything else that you can add to that?
Kristy: I think what Kylee was saying before about getting to know your local service, even if you aren’t at that stage yet of enrollment, get to know them so that you get to know what they’re going to expect of you. They get to know what to expect from you. You have those visits. Have those play dates, get along to any community events that they might have going along so that you get a feel for the place before it is that time. Because as you said, things can happen unexpectedly. But if you do have that sort of background knowledge, it’s a little bit less intimidating if you’ve already built that relationship.
Terri: Absolutely, I would agree with that. Something that I always say to our families as well is for them to trust their instincts. So as soon as you walk into a service, you get a feeling straight away. As a parent, and I’m speaking from experience, you can walk in and you know, straight away whether the director or the manager or the first person that you actually come into contact will smile at you will welcome you to their community. I always welcome all of our families to our Capers family and things like that. So it was just those little things that do make a big difference. And having that genuine understanding of parents saying, “I understand where you’re coming from.” So.
Terri: And it’s a lot about self care for parents when you’re looking into childcare as well. Like, “I know you’re feeling, and I know what it feels like to give you a little precious human over,” and it’s just so nerve wracking. But I really think you come in and develop a sense of trust with the people. And that’s a time thing. So don’t just come in the week before you need to start work, come in, spend a month getting to know us. So our team are in all of our services, absolutely beautiful.
Terri: But if you have that level of trust, you know the name of the person that you’re dropping off to, you know, they know what’s going to happen. You know you’ll get a call in the day to say everything’s fine, a beautiful photo come up on the internet and that stuff matters. So be just look after yourself as well because as a parent, going back to work as I did when my children went into care, it’s exhausting. It is exhausting. So, well one number one, want to look after your little human. But number two, just don’t forget about yourself because parenting is a hard gig sometimes.
Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to this podcast. You’ve listened to a panel of experts, and we will have information with his podcast, follow the link that’ll give you all of the details. There’s childcare centres for Kids Capers all away from Clayfield up through Wamuran, and Elimbah. And you can check it out. And as they’ve said during this podcast, meet and connect with the different childcare centres and make the decision for yourself.