An average day in the office for Jillian Jager might start with some painting, a bit of show and tell, a visit to the park, songs or storytime, a nap and a few breaks for meals and Play School.
But it is certainly not always a picnic, even when a few teddy bears come along for the ride.
Mrs Jager — “Jilly” to her charges — runs a family day care business in Blaxland for children aged from six months to six years of age and for the third time running has been nominated as an outstanding early childhood carer for the NSW/ACT area.
This year she also made the shortlist among 24 state finalists —the only one to do so from the Blue Mountains —and last week when the Gazette caught up with her she was busily preparing a submission for the judges.
“It is certainly not an easy job but it’s very rewarding... I’ve got fingers and toes crossed for this year.”
Currently on six weeks maternity leave after having her third child, she is up against a field of candidates from pre-schools, long day care and family day care centres from Bossley Park and Wagga Wagga to Dapto and Avalon.
“Being at home with my own children, teaching children, watching them develop and earning an income is fantastic,” she said of her job. “I love it lots.”
“I was surprised (to be nominated again). I’ve had no idea who nominated me and what they said, but of course appreciate the acknowledgement of all my hard work. This year unlike previous years I was notified via email of the parent who nominated me.”
Mrs Jager said all the activities at the centre were based on the children’s own interests and “are fun... even young babies are painting alongside their older peers”.
Mrs Jager said she “loves learning” with the children and keeps a Facebook page for families, bi-monthly newsletters and has a portfolio for each child.
“I strongly believe in open communication with the families ... sharing all aspects of their day and their development shows you are taking the time to get to know them.”
The website for the award says they aim to “encourage Australians working in all sectors of early childhood education and care to aspire to excellence ... providing a great way for families to say thanks to the special early year’s educators and carers in their life.”
A judging panel of representatives from the Australian Family Early Education and Care Awards will interview the finalists with winners (announced in May) taking home accommodation, spa vouchers and professional development training.
Mrs Jager said if she wins the award it will be business as usual with a few added benefits.
“I will continue to run Jillian’s Family Daycare ... winning would open more doors for me with professional training of new educators and already now I support new family day carers and have students who complete pracs at my service but to increase that support and advocate family daycare Australia-wide would be great.”