Information and tips for family day care educators
Working with children brings many intrinsic rewards, which keep family day care educators going ‘the extra mile’. Yet despite these joys and deep satisfactions, being a family day care educator is often physically, mentally and emotionally demanding. In recognition of this, Family Day Care Australia (FDCA) is conducting a new campaign called Your Wellbeing Matters – information and tips for family day care educators.
This section of FDCA’s website has been developed as a place to share useful information, tips and resources to support educators’ personal wellbeing. So take a moment for your own wellbeing and explore!
What is wellbeing and why is it important?
Wellbeing can be summed up as a state of feeling good about ourselves and the way our lives are going. While there are many definitions of wellbeing, it is generally recognised as a complex interplay between physical, psychological, emotional, social and health factors as well as an individual’s culture and values.
Personal wellbeing is important because it helps us function well in the world and provides us with feelings of happiness, enjoyment, curiosity, contentment and engagement. A sense of wellbeing also contributes to our mental health, that is, our capacity to manage our thoughts, feelings and behaviours so we can enjoy life, maintain positive relationships and work towards our goals.1
Why is FDCA conducting a wellbeing campaign aimed at family day care educators?
Children are influenced by the people around them and their surroundings.2 For family day care educators to be effective in educating and caring for children, it is important that they also look after their own wellbeing.3 You can’t pour from an empty cup, as the saying goes.
Moreover, recent research shows that the unique context of family day care brings with it additional challenges that may impact on the mental health and wellbeing of educators. There is also a sense of high expectations from families and services that educators display a high level of mental and physical wellbeing at all times.4
In the process of meeting the intense daily demands and challenges of their work, and in peak times, it is easy for educators to put their own personal wellbeing needs on the backburner.
What can educators do to look after their personal wellbeing?
Many factors can contribute to positive personal wellbeing.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach. What works for some, does not work for others.
Below are some tried and true ways to look after your personal wellbeing that may useful starting points:
You might also like to check out the information on Kidsmatter Early Childhood such as this recent webinar on Educator Wellbeing: Yours, mine and ours.
What can services do?
Educator wellbeing is not just the responsibility of the educator alone. Below are a number of ways in which services can help build wellbeing and resilience in their educators:
- Acknowledging the reality and demands of family day care;
- Having realistic expectations of educators;
- Identify strategies (e.g. through educator surveys) that your service can put in place to support educator wellbeing;
- Supporting self-care behaviours in staff and educators;
- Providing forums for discussion and strategy-sharing among service staff and educators;
- Providing opportunities for staff and educators to express strong feelings;
- Consider introducing a mentoring system where educators are given opportunities to share and reflect on experiences with their colleagues;
- Encouraging opportunities for further education and professional development;
- Enabling educators to build on their strengths in their day-to-day work; and
- Communicating relevant information that has an impact on the work educators do in an effective and timely manner.5
1. Commonwealth of Australia 2014: ResponseAbility Fact Sheet - Wellbeing and Self care
2. Be You eBook: Learning on Country: What do ya know?
3. Early Childhood Australia’s The Spoke blog: 8 Ways to take care of yourself, January 31, 2018
4. Corr, L., LaMontagne, Anthony D., Davis,E., Waters, E. : Early childhood educator mental health: performing the National Quality Standard, Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, Vol 42, no. 4, December 2017.
5. Adapted from Be You Staff Wellbeing Wactsheet