Sharon Taylor has been a Blue Mountains Family Day Care educator for over 20 years. She talked to us about her philosophy of childcare, the Marte Meo approach, and why the children feel so at home at Sharon's House.

I have been caring for and educating children at Sharon’s House Family Day Care for over 20 years. I value that care takes place in a family home, a comfortable place children can belong to. The routine of the household provides real life opportunities for connection and learning. From developing a child’s sense of agency and competent self image as they dry breakfast dishes I am washing, while we discuss the different scientific properties of plastic, glass and steel. To developing respect for the needs of other family members who may be present in the day. We can spontaneously follow our interests of the moment and add more to our day or s-l-o-w things down when children have had a busy weekend or are not feeling up to it.

From this secure base we can access the community. Practicing road safety as we take a walk around the neighbourhood. Developing risk assessment skills at the park or visiting the nearby bush block for enriched nature experiences. Building more relationships and working on social skills with a larger group at play sessions.

Building children’s strong sense of identity and resilience are a high priority for me. Now I have the language and strategies of Marte Meo to support the children’s development and communicate with their families. Marte Meo meaning 'on one’s own strength' is a method I have been studying since 2013. It uses everyday interaction moments to build connections with the child and the group and to support the children’s social, emotional and communication development. It helps me to go deeper into the world of the child, to know them, to observe their strengths and see where they need help to develop the next play skill.

To support our aboriginal children, we participated in a mentoring program with Ngroo, deepening our connection to country and culture.  I look for opportunities to embed this learning into the children’s favourite experiences, substituting the aboriginal words for the animals in their favourite song book. As part of our reconciliation journey, we added an “Acknowledgement of Country” to our morning routine. Building on cultural competency we are partnering with our African, Asian, English and Canadian heritage families to explore aspects of these cultures too.

Being the director of my own Blue Mountains Family Day Care Service, I am able to bring my passion for permaculture to the children. They can participate in my organic vegetable garden. We built a bug hotel and are learning about bees and their importance to food production. Our waste is reduced, recycled, reused as craft materials or fed to the worm farm and most of our learning resources come from pre-loved homes. In fact the ethics of permaculture - Earth care, People care, Fair share - fit perfectly with our Acknowledgement of Country promises to ‘look after the land, the animals and the people'.

If you are interested in becoming an educator with Blue Mountains Family Day Care, or would like to find a place for your child in the service, please email us at familydaycare@bmcc.nsw.gov.au or call 4780 5652