Hello Everyone,

Thanks so much to those of you who contacted me wanting the next Childcare Converstions, and sorry it has taken so long. This year my work with services throughout Australia has been all-consuming. However, your calls and emails did prompt me to prioritise this edition. As usual, it contains information about those items that I have seen and heard in the field, and believe you will find interesting.  


September 2015


Sustainable Artworks

This bottle top art mural was made by Puddleducks Early Learning Centre at St Leonards, NSW. Although the centre has only 15 children per day, with support from families and local businesses it collected sufficient lids to complete the mural. 

Completing the mural also showed the children how much plastic we consume, ways to reuse unwanted items, and to discover the importance of recycling. Well done, Puddleducks.

Of course, if you are a larger service and/or a service with school age children, you might aspire to creating a milk bottle igloo following directions from YouTube.


NQS Snapshot Q2 2015

According to the NQS Snapshot QA2 2015:

  • 14,910 children’s education and care services are registered with the NQF

  • 9,347 or 63 per cent of these services have now been assessed and rated

  • 66 per cent of these assessed services were rated Meeting or Exceeding the NQS

  • 36 services were rated Excellent.  

The document can be downloaded at:   http://files.acecqa.gov.au/files/Reports/2015/August_2015_ACECQA_Snapshot_Q2_Final.pdf


Raising the profile of Indigenous Australia in early education and care services

It is exciting to see how many education and care services reflect our indigenous culture. I found this intruiging poster on the internet by googling ‘free indigenous posters for childcare’. Some of these posters, like this one, can be downloaded. Others will be sent to you on request at little or no cost.

The attached article on the ECA website has some ideas your service might find useful.  http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/nqsplp/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/including_aboriginal_australia.pdf


Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse is a truly wonderful way to help others at a level children can understand. Children, families and staff are encouraged to contibute specific inexpensive items to fill a decorated shoebox to be given to children in need across the world at Christmas. National Collection Month is October.




Mindfulness is a hot topic, and rightly so given the overwhelming evidence that it contributes to ongoing health and wellbeing. The Oxford Dictionary defines mindfulness as ‘the ability to totally focus our awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations’.  

It is a lifelong skill that we all benefit from, and it is closely connected to awe (one of the eleven human emotions identified by scientists). The DVD Awe and Wonder reminds adults working with children of the feelings which accompany awe and wonder, how to recognise them in children and how to promote them. A must watch for every educator and parent.

The DVD can be purchased online at:   http://www.childcarebydesign.com.au/dvds.php


School readiness

At this time of year, parents ask educators what they are doing to prepare their children for school. This parent page on the NSW Department of Eduction and Communities has some very useful information for parents. Of course, every state and territory has a similar site but I particuarly like the Getting Ready for School Booklet on this site.



Documenting reflective practice

My suggestion to document reflective practice is to use an A3 scrap book. Write a reflective question relevant to your service at the left hand top of the page – perhaps even circle the question or highlight it in some way, and ask each team member write a comment. Such a question might be "How can we encourage more parents to write their comments about our program?" This idea works really well in many centres, does not take too much time, and documents the centre's reflection as required by the NQS.



Attention Deficit Disorder illustrated

 It will only take a moment to read this article 17 Illustrations That Are Incredibly Real For Anyone With ADD, but the information it contains is invaluable for educators in their professional and personal lives.

The article can be accessed at: http://www.buzzfeed.com/carolinekee/distractions-come-at-me#.tpOd89ydA



Encouraging friendships between children

As educators working with children with Asperger (now referred to as being on the Autism Spectrum), we have the opportunity to teach all children how to relate to others. All too often, we focus exclusively on developing the social skills of the child on the Spectrum and neglect to develop the abilities of the other children to relate to those who are different to themselves.


More and more services now recognise that mentoring increases the knowledge and skills of their Directors/Nominated Supervisors and educators. For some time now, I have successfully used regular Skype sessions to mentor and provide continuing support to services including those in remote localities.  

Research has clearly shown that one-off mentoring visits/sessions do not always result in long-term change, no matter how knowledgeable and skilful the mentor. Long-term change requires an ongoing mentor, someone educators can turn to when they need support, advice and strategies as they make these changes. Skype sessions are a highly effective way to achieve this end.

If you would like to know more about Skype mentoring sessions, call me on 0419 661 921 or email brenda@childcarebydesign.com.au   All sessions are eligible for funding under the the Long Day Care Professional Development Programme (LDCPDP).





Exemplar nappy change facilities

I have abeen asked many times for some some photographs of exemplary nappy change facilities. This photograph is of a pre-fabricated nappy change facility used in some centres overseas. Of course, they position them so that the educators have uninterrupted line of sight into the play room, and storage for clothes, nappies and other items which need to be readily accessed is close by. If you like your service’s nappy change facilitity and would like to share it with other readers, please email a photograph to info@childcarebydesign.com.au You might alos be the lucky winner of a Toddler Territory Poster Pack worth $54.95. The competition closes 30 September 2015.


Food for unwell children

This article about foods to given or not given to children when they are unwell and how to boost their recovery would be perfect to pass on to parents. 



 Parachute activities

With the strong focus on child initiated and nature play, we often overlook how much children enjoy other types of play. Parachute play is a social activity which can involve many children at the same time. It is non-competitive and everyone works towards a common goal while having fun (e.g. tossing a teddy bear in the air). Most services would have a parachute in their storeroom, so take a look for it. If your service does not have one, put it on the wishlist.



 Centres are loving how NQS DART has removed the stress from their self-assessment, saved them so much time and transformed the it into a simple and much more enjoyable task.



Sustainability in childcare

The Small Green Steps for Childcare Program is worth a look. It has been designed to help childcare services embed sustainable practices in order to meet National Quality Standard 3.3.   http://www.smallgreen.com.au/level-one.html



  • DRY MIX:
  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  •  1 1/2 cups All Bran

  •  2 eggs

  •  1 1/2 cups grated raw apple

  •  1/2 cup chopped raisins chopped

  • WET MIX:
  • 1 1/2 cups  self raising flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice


Soak the all bran in the milk for 15 minutes. Grease the muffin tray. Preheat the oven. Lightly beat the eggs. Add them to the wet mix and add the apple and raisins. Mix to combine. Add the dry ingredients to wet mix and then gently but thoroughly combine the wet mix with the dry mix. Spoon the mixture into the muffin pans. Place in oven and bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from tray and place on rack to cool. (Reference: Muffin Magic, Diana Linfoot).


ECA Code of Ethics

The NQS requires each service to display the ECA Code of Ethics or one that the service has developed. The ECA Code of Ethics poster can be purchased from ECA Australia for $15.95. http://www.earlychildhoodaustralia.org.au/shop/product/code-of-ethics-a1-poster/  

If your service displays the Code in the staff toilet (a not uncommon practice) why not suggest that it be repositioned so that parents and visitors can see the values that underpin your service’s practices? 


Sleep rooms

Many times I see cots squeezed into sleep rooms just like in this photograph (i.e. with little or no distance between them). However, sufficient space (some 760mm) should be provided between cots so that educators can move between them, bend down and pick up a child safely, and minimise the spread of airborne infection between children. If you cannot have 760mm, then take time to re-arrange the cots to maximise the separation.


If you have any ideas or photographs for the next edition of Childcare Conversations, I would love to hear from you. In addition, please feel free to contact me about my consultancy services and resources, or just to have a general chat about child care.

Visit www.childcarebydesign.com.au to see the many ways I can support you in your quality care journey.

Dr Brenda Abbey

Principal Consultant
Childcare by Design
M: 0419 661 921
E: info@childcarebydesign.com.au
W: www.childcarebydesign.com.au

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Brenda is widely recognised for her expertise in the NQS, EYLF and MTOP. She is in demand across Australia as a consultant, mentor, author, conference presenter and workshop facilitator. Contact Brenda to discuss your service’s specific needs via mobile 0419 661 921 or email her at info@childcarebydesign.com.au