Blue Mountains Family Day Care
Blue Mountains Family Day Care has been providing home-based childcare for local families for almost 40 years.
Kathryn Tang and the children in her Family Day Care service are a familiar sight in the community of Blackheath as they pick up other children from school for after-school care and visit the local park. Kathryn’s approach to early childhood education is based on the importance of physical development and learning through play, gentle activities, such as baking bread and exploring the garden of her weatherboard cottage in the heart of Blackheath. We spoke to Kathryn about the joys of being a Blue Mountains Family Day Care educator.
Tell us about your background as an early childhood educator
I was a kindergarten preschool teacher in my twenties and early thirties. Later, I worked in a clinic which included working with children with learning difficulties alongside other practitioners and this really brought home the importance of children’s physical development and how this early childhood period is of great value to later learning. I also worked as an assistant at the Blue Mountains Steiner School for five years, and this included movement work with children with learning difficulties.
I started part-time with Blue Mountains Family Day Care four years ago, doing two days a week with three- and four-year-olds. Then I just dived in last year and it was the first time I’d ever worked with children under three. It’s been a wonderful privilege to watch children’s development. That age is so stunning. Like watching a baby learn to walk and the process of getting co-ordinated. It’s an amazing period of childhood, looking at it from a developmental point of view.
What’s the best thing about being a Blue Mountains Family Day Care educator?
It's really vocational for me. I get to watch children’s development, to have warm connected relationships with them, and support their development.
I enjoy working collaboratively with parents and with other educators. I appreciate the relationships and the support - working as a team.
Do you have a particular philosophy around childhood development?
I embrace play and plenty of movement. That doesn’t have to look like gym. It means we go to the park, run around; things like rolling down the hill, balancing on logs, swinging, sliding. It’s about providing opportunities to develop movement, co-ordination and gross motor skills through play. And then there’s sand play, sensory play, and messy play for fine motor development and sensory integration.
Twenty years ago we didn’t hear much about it. We knew you had to be healthy, and that developing gross and fine motor skills was early childhood bedrock stuff but I didn’t realise how profound an impact it had on later learning. Now early childhood educators often have a good sense of it, even if a service or centre can’t accommodate it as much as is ideal. Building with blocks, playing in the sandpit, it looks like a low-key thing but it’s really important.