Making a positive impact in the early years at Glass House Mountains
For early childhood teacher Racquel Grant, being part of a child’s early years is both a privilege and an important responsibility. It is in those first five years of a child’s life where their experiences help shape the adults they will become.
Racquel has recently joined the Glass House Mountains
learning community after moving from Foster in New South Wales, where she has spent the last 15 years working in early childhood, completing her Bachelor degree, and raising a family.
She is now embracing the next chapter of her professional career as a kindergarten teacher at Goodstart Glass House Mountains.
“I moved here to be closer to my family,” said Racquel.
“The Glass House Mountains are beautiful and the people in the community are amazing. I’ve had such a warm welcome and I’m so excited to be working in the early learning space,” said Racquel.
“Before joining Goodstart, I was a Year 2 teacher which I loved, however I strongly believe birth to five is where the foundation of children’s lives are built and it’s where I want to be to make a positive impact.
Completing her Bachelor of Education – Early Childhood (Birth the 12 Years) was a 7.5 year journey for Raquel, who continued worked while she studied part time at the Early Childhood Institute at Macquarie University.
“It was definitely tough at times, working and studying, and raising three children, and with husband working away and then having to deal with my Dad who is very ill, I had some challenges along the way.
“But every time I completed a level, first my Certificate, then a Diploma qualification, then starting my Bachelor, I was compelled to know more. I really wanted to develop a deep understanding of children and learn the best teaching practices. So I kept going,” she said.
As the program coordinator for her class of 22 kindergarten children at Goodstart, Racquel is responsible for developing a program which helps children build and extend their language, literacy and numeracy skills, learn to be creative, and build their independence, so they can enter ‘big school’ with confidence.
Part of her teaching style is to take a personalised approach to a child’s learning based on specific needs and interests of each child.
“In our class, I like to link learning experiences to children’s interests, and explore how deep we can go into a particular subject matter. It’s working within the zone of proximal development, which is a concept which explores how people learn within the timing of their individual learning.
“For example, a child brought popcorn his lunch box one day and wanted to know if it was a ‘healthy choice’ for morning tea. This led to a whole discussion around where popcorn came from and he was so curious to learn it actually came from the vegetable corn.
“I then took this curiosity and created a whole learning experience around this for the whole class. We explore the science behind popcorn and change in matter, which is actually part of the science aspect of our program, having a background in primary education helps me to understand what learning experiences will benefit children when they go to school.
“As a class, we did research on the iPad and the Lenovo, using technology to look at pictures of a corn field, and we used literacy and maths to explore where corn and popcorn comes from, we even made popcorn that afternoon and children got to watch it pop and hold it, and taste it. So it was a whole scientific, literacy, numeracy and sensory experience.
“Children were also encouraged to use their words to explain how the corn becomes popcorn and were able to draw pictures to illustrate this using their creativity and problem-solving skills.
“This really excites me, because I get to observe how children engage in learning, what excites them, what makes them curious, and how they interact with the learning experience, and also with their peers.
“I can then share these observations with parents through our online system Storypark, so they can better understand how their child enjoys learning,” she said.
Racquel also believes above all, the relationship you have with a child shapes the way a child learns and develops.
“As an early childhood teacher, it’s really important for me to establish those beautiful trusting relationships with children. The foundations for these trusting relationships come from the circle of security, which is very much the Goodstart way, it’s one of their underlying philosophies.
“Relationships are the basis of learning. If they don’t have that valuable relationship with their educators, children won’t engage as effectively, with you or with their peers. This is where I see the potential to make the most positive difference.
“I feel really blessed to be part of children’s lives.”
Goodstart’s kindergarten program is underpinned by the Australian Government National Quality Framework.