In the glorious bushland at Bruce, a dedicated group of women are bringing-up children. The atmosphere at Bruce Early Childhood Centre is a serene mix of seclusion, love and freedom. The educators at Bruce come from many different cultural backgrounds. Most of them speak one or more language other than English. They share songs, dances and stories from all over the world in a uniquely Australian bush setting.
Three of the educators agreed to share their stories of working at Bruce. They all say that the workers at Bruce are a close knit group who look after each other like a family. There’s a lot of respect between them. They like that everyone follows the rules and that they’re guided by clear policies. The children are very secure because they get to know the educators very well.
A former bank worker from Bangladesh, Nadira has found her calling in the bush at Bruce. She’s been working at there since 1997 and says, “I love all the children”. Nadira works in the toddler room, with children aged two to three years. In the mornings, there’s always a song and dance.
Nadira shares songs and dances from her own childhood. The Bengali Peacock song is a great favourite with the toddlers. She recalls a little boy saying “no twinkle twinkle”, and making a gesture to show that he wanted the Peacock song instead. Nadira also shows the children how to make Bengali styled sand castles in the sand pit.
All the children are very comfortable with Nadira and it’s important to her that the parents are happy too. She’s aware that on some days, she spends more waking hours with the children than their parents do. She is proud of the trust they show in her. Because she’s worked at the centre for so many years, there are many people in the community whose children have been in her care. She says that sometimes people recognise her on the bus or at the shops and it’s always nice to catch up.
All meals are for the children who attend Bruce Early Childhood Centre are prepared by Chamari who is a qualified cook. Chamari works on the floor in the morning before beginning food preparation. The children know her as their educator as well as their cook.
Chamari was a college and high school teacher in Sri Lanka. Since moving to Australia, she’s worked in three different Early Childhood Centres. She says that when she first moved to Australia, she didn’t know what Early Childhood Care was. She asked her best friend, “What is Childcare?” and says, “My best friend took me to a centre where she worked and I said, ‘ok I would like to work there too.’” Chamiri worked on the floor for three years before becoming a qualified cook and preparing meals for up to 175 children.
Chamari came to Bruce three years ago. She says, “This Centre is so different!” She loves being in a smaller centre which is calm and quiet with a small staff and a multicultural environment. Chamari speaks Sinhalese as well as English. She speaks in Sinhalese to some of the children and other staff members.
Chamari designs different menus for summer and winter. She includes plenty of fresh vegetables and can cater to all dietary needs. The meat is all Halal. Children can also follow a vegetarian or vegan diet and she ensures that their meals include chickpeas and other non-meat sources of protein.
She is proud that there is no wasted food because the children like her cooking so much. She tells of one boy who, when he started at Bruce, would only eat burgers and chips. “Now he eats everything! When I come out with the trolley at lunch time, he is following me around and asking, ‘what is that?’”
Roohangis is known to the children as Roohi. She’s been working at Bruce since 2001. She used to work in the babies room and now works with the pre-schoolers who are aged from three years to school age. Roohi was an upper primary school teacher in Iran before moving to Australia. She speaks Pharsi (the Persian language) as well as English. Her Pharsi has helped a number of Iranian children to feel at home at Bruce. “They are very happy and always looking for me.”
She fondly remembers one little boy who learned to recognise her car. He’d cry out, “She’s here! She’s here!” when he saw it in the carpark outside the centre. She says, “He’s grown up now, about 19 or 20 years old.”
Roohi loves the natural environment at Bruce, “The playground is very beautiful. I’ve seen kangaroos, rabbits and a fox.” She also likes the hand-made toys that reflect many different cultures.
Roohi says that Bruce is a very caring centre where the children are always comforted if they hurt themselves or feel sad. She likes seeing how happy the children are to be there.
We asked Nadira, Chamari and Roohi about the needs of the different age groups at the centre.
Babies room: The babies want lots of love and comforting so that they don’t miss their parents too much.
Toddlers room: They like lots of activities and attention – singing and dancing and games.
Pre-schoolers: They always want to go outside and play. They don’t need us as much, they like to play with each other.
Find out more about Bruce Early Childhood Centre
Find out more about BCS Childcare and download enrolment forms
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