Rosie and I sit down at a children’s play table on little blue chairs, as purple playdough is being cut into lozenges by an upside-down red plastic knife. Other childcare staff are supervising the making of a coral display of crayon coloured coral, supported by pale pink papered cardboard cups and the jumping room is busy. Children are talking and laughing and wondering what we are doing.
Rosie has been a part of such happy surroundings for nearly thirty years of child care, here at Pilgrim Child Care Centre Launceston. Having started at the Centre in 1989 while doing her practical for her original TAFE qualifications, Rosie has seen the breadth of the Centre’s changes and workings throughout her career. A career that has seen her in various roles expanding her education and experience from student to Assistant Director and her current role of Senior Educator.
The Child Care Centre Launceston can hold up to twenty-five children of mixed ages mostly between twelve months and five years of age, with a large community of CALD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) families who use the facility including from Afghanistan, Bhutan, China and Saudi Arabia. There is the ability to choose from all day, half day or two hour sessions which enable carers to attend to appointments or have a coffee break and know that their children are safe and well looked after.
Changes have been happening in child care throughout her working life. Rosie takes them all in her stride as she says that whatever is the ethos of the time good child care always places the needs of the child and the family first.
The Centre currently follows the Emilio Reggio system. A teaching system that is child centred and uses self-directed and experiential natural learning in relationship driven environments. Child instigated learning in a family atmosphere is not new to Rosie, who says that little has really changed at the Centre as they always have taught and engaged the children by firing their imaginations. The parents are always included in the child’s progress and often take home wonderful artworks and the stories that go home with them.
As a young girl, Rosie was influenced by her mother’s compassion and example as she worked at Yooralla Crippled Children’s School in Melbourne. Early experience of her mother’s charitable heart, a lady who opened her home to those who needed support and care have stayed with her. This follows through into her work with the families and children that have gone through the centre.
Some of Rosie’s greatest joys have been seeing people that she has looked after as children later in life and knowing that they are living well. One of her earliest charges who had autism, and showed a talent for art, she discovered twenty years later had become an artist!
When asked the question, “What in your work here brings you joy?” Rosie answers positively, “Children, when they are proud of their accomplishments.”
Her dream for the Pilgrim Child Care Centre is to have it expand, so they can help more families. “All the children who come through here are loved, looked after and their needs are met.”
Rosie also has a dream for herself in the future as she talks about her retirement and the possibility of being able to “stay in bed”. It is a dream to be a volunteer reader for children in a children’s ward at the hospital. At seventy-one and still working two days a week, Rosie is an active personality who enjoys life and her work to the full!
At the end of our time together, looking around the room, Rosie gestures to the playing children, “They are just so beautiful.”
By Annetia Goldsmith