It’s been an incredible year for Mark and Michelle Tregillgas of Moochy Kids Family Day Care in Winmalee. Earlier this year they won the Family Day Care Australia Excellence Awards 2019 for their region and went on to be named state finalists. We spoke to Mark and Michelle about their state and why they love being Blue Mountains Family Day Care educators:

What do you think has made your service award-winning?

We give the children the freedom to explore, climb and run, all the while learning and understanding their limits. We’re fortunate to live within easy access to a World Heritage Area where we can expose them to activities that challenge and excite them.

We provide a quiet family environment for young children and having the two of us means we can give time for babies and younger children. We have created a nurturing feeling of family; some of the children in our care were unsettled in the long day care environment. Being a husband and wife team brings stability to the service too and it has been good for the boys who don’t have their dads around, to have the interaction with Mark. Mark provides the fun element, he likes to change it up, so there is a nice balance.

The emphasis on play and being outdoors is one of the key features of Moochy Kids. We are able to take the children on regular excursions, and have two vegetable plots at the Community Gardens near our home where the children help with the planting, watering and harvesting, learning as they go.

This outdoor activity helps to keep the children calm. One child learnt balance through bush walks which challenged him, using maps, improving his confidence and strength. Parents are sometimes hurried and lacking time, so we offer a calm space for them to explore and learn and just be.
 

What do you love about being a Family Day Care educator?

Mark: It’s the best job I’ve ever had! I can play in sandpits and have fun!

Michelle:  I love constantly having the children around me. You have your own children, then they are gone, but we are be able to continue being with children through play and their learning journey. 

 

How did you feel about being named state finalists?

Michelle: I was flabbergasted. I’ve seen so many of the profiles of other nominees on social media and there are all these amazing people. I can’t believe we won the State.


 
What was your background before becoming Family Day Care educators?

We decided to try Family Day Care after running a pecan farm, and then Mark being made redundant from his job at Vinnies, and we haven’t looked back.

What are some other elements you focus on in your service?

We base our program on the children’s interests, such as our space themed week which was a group effort, with the inclusion of parents and we included Aboriginal astronomy.

We focus on being part of the community and we have our Moochy Mingle where we include past families, including extended family, such as grandparents. We involve the children with lots of regular charitable activities, such as Anzac Day Service boxes, Heart kids instead of Valentine’s Day, and collecting donations of water for drought-affected communities. We feel it’s important for the children to be involved in these activities as parents aren't always able to do this.  

 

Afternote: We caught up with Michelle and Mark again after their trip to Tasmania for the national finals of the Excellence Awards. They expressed their gratitude to Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) for their generous hosting of the gala dinner in Hobart:

"We were excited to be flown to Tasmania by FDCA to attend the Gala Award Dinner held at  the Grand Chancellor  Hotel  Hobart.  We were well looked after, our accommodation was 5 ⭐️ and we met many talented people in our field of work. It was down to four of us for the National Award and it went to QLD/NT. We received a beautiful glass star trophy for our NSW/ACT State win and we came away from the event with contacts, knowledge and a positive outlook for the future of Family Day Care."