An Ulladulla family day care educator has been rewarded for providing a nurturing home learning environment and fostering strong relationships.
Rachel McGuire, who is registered Rainbow Bridge Family Day Care, has been announced as the Wollongong, Illawarra and South Coast regional winner in the 2019 Excellence in Family Day Care Awards.
The married mother-of-three, who has been an early childhood educator for 10 years, said she was amazed to be recognised within the industry.
Currently Mrs McGuire looks after four under school age with a few more school-aged children, including two of her own kids, in the more demanding times before or after school.
The Ulladulla educator is one of more than 13,000 family day care educators who play a wonderful and vital role in the lives of more than 126,000 children around the country.
Relationships and connections have a strong focus at her centre. Last year she had four children transitioning to school and was rapt they continued to have a bond as it helped them settle into primary school.
"I brought in a tutor one day a week and we really collaborated to support the children's readiness, focusing on their ability to take direction, try new things and complete tasks rather than more traditional approaches," she said.
"All four of those children got into the same Kindergarten class and are achieving amazing outcomes together.
Currently, her children's routines includes set meal times, yoga and meditation programs and a STEM program which allows the children to investigate and be hands-on.
Mrs McGuire also has a "massive focus" on sustainability and using natural resources. As an example she makes the children's yogurt, which has reduced plastic waste going to landfill.
Family Day Care Australia chief executive officer, Andrew Paterson, said this year a record number of over 5,000 nominations were placed in the awards; testament to the growing recognition of the sector's many and unique benefits in supporting children, families and communities across Australia.
"To be chosen as a regional winner is not only a reward for Rachel's dedication to providing quality early childhood education and care, it also underscores the relationship that Rachel has with the children in her care."
Mrs McGuire is now in the running to be named as a national finalist for the national Family Day Care Educator of the Year Award.
National finalists will be announced on October 14, with the National Educator of the Year to be announced at the Excellence in Family Day Care Awards Gala Dinner in November.