What was clear was whether they were a parent or an educator, there is one thing they all shared – a love for children. But what is it about in-home care that results in these kinds of special relationships?
On the surface, in-home care may appear less ‘educational’ than a centre, because of our own childhood experiences associating classroom-like, group environments with learning. But the rise of in-home care actually began because of what PORSE founder Jenny Yule intrinsically knew – in those first few years, children thrive when they feel secure and connected to their caregiver, in a loving home environment.
Why should that only be an option for children whose parents can afford to stay home with them? Research has shown for many years that a child’s brain does most of its development in the first three years, which happens at the astonishing rate of about 700 new connections every second. That development is influenced by what’s happening in the child’s environment – be it sensory, cognitive, motor or emotional – firing neurons and making them stronger. And for optimal development to occur, children need to feel safe and loved. If they are stressed, children aren’t confident exploring and testing the environment and their bodies and instead withdraw into themselves as a form of self-preservation.
So how does in-home care enhance the positive brain development of children?
By having no more than four children in care (and a maximum of two under the age of two) at any one time, educators can provide a level of one-on-one focus that just isn’t possible in a fifteen-to-one ratio. It’s that one-on-one time that enables them to develop the secure relationship that children need from caregivers for optimal brain development.
The PORSE philosophy uses play to observe a child’s interest; using this information to support and extend their learning, with educators recording their learning journey for parents to follow through daily journaling.
Because the learning is child-led, educators create a unique and strong bond with each child, which parents can see, as highlighted in the posts on Facebook. But it’s not just the children that benefit from the relationship that forms. For educators, it provides a level of job satisfaction that is hard to beat.
Ashburton educator Lucy Dowthwaite joined PORSE last year, after recognising the benefits of working from home.
Having spent 12 years in childcare centres, the registered early childhood teacher wanted to dedicate more time to her own young family, Kingston, now six and Henae, four, while doing what she loves.
“The hours I was working meant I missed out on a lot with my own son and daughter - I wasn’t with them in the school holidays and I couldn’t be involved with their after school activities.
“I didn’t want to change careers because I absolutely love children – with PORSE I am still able to teach and educate, with more flexibility.”
Since making the change Lucy has noticed many positives, and enjoys the diversity of caring for children from the ages of seven months to five years.
She has seen first hand the difference an
in-home learning environment makes and the affect it has on developing happy, healthy, settled kids.
“The transition is a lot smoother. The babies are quite happy to leave mum for the day. It’s really nice that their parent’s can come into my home, drop off their children and feel comfortable, it’s very relaxed.
“I have found there are no behavioural problems at home. I think the smaller groups really help, they get a lot more attention as one of four than they would as one of a much larger group.”
The freedom to adapt her schedule depending on the day and children’s moods was another bonus. There’s also plenty of time to make meaningful connections with each child.
“I think one of the real benefits is being able to get down on the ground with the children, spend time with them and build those relationships in a relaxed, quiet environment where they are all settled.
“Everything fits around them, it doesn’t matter if they want morning tea then story time, or the other way around.”
Dedicating an area of her home to her PORSE children and rotating teaching resources depending on the age group means children in her care can learn and grow at a level appropriate for their own development.
Lucy is quick to pick up on individual play habits and cater to those needs.
“You really get to know them, so you quickly learn, which child likes to build blocks and which favours felts and collage."