A hidden treasure on the top floor of Belconnen Mall, Belconnen Early Childhood Centre (BECC) surprises visitors with its spacious rooms and large balcony garden. BECC is one of Belconnen Community Service’s three Early Childhood Centres. All three centres have dedicated long-serving educators and a strong focus on community connection, but each centre has its own unique atmosphere and style.
BECC is a very active centre; the children are highly engaged and very chatty. They enjoy lots of singing and creative play. Educators at BECC value diversity and children in all rooms learn about different cultures, languages, costumes, currencies, and festivals. Children and educators at BECC are also keen environmentalists and are avid recyclers. The centre was awarded Actsmart Business Sustainability Awards for two years in a row.
Three of the educators, Jessica, Sharanjit and Raj agreed to share their experience of working at BECC.
“Everyone here is the best but the children are the most best.”
Jessica works in the toddler room and at 25 she is the youngest educator at the centre. But don’t be deceived by her youthful energy; Jessica has seven years experience in childcare. She was only 18 when she began working for St Matthew’s After School Care which, like BECC, is run by Belconnen Community Service. She says that she’s always loved children but never considered being an educator until she started working at St Matt’s.
“My first job was in childcare and I was like ‘Done!’ I couldn’t imagine my day without children now.”
Jessica began a Diploma of Early Education and Care which she has now nearly finished. She first came to BECC on a practical work placement for her diploma. She fitted in so well that she was offered ongoing work. Jessica says that the strength of BECC is that the community is really involved. The parents, children and educators are all very chatty. “When you walk in you can tell what it’s like. It’s amazing in here!”
Jessica loves singing and is always finding new songs that suit the toddlers developing interests. “I start singing and they all come and sit down around me. Some of them have become interested in the planets, so on August 5 we all sang Happy Birthday to Curiosity, the Mars Rover.”
Raj and Sharanjit have a lot in common. They both come from Punjab in northern India. They were both school teachers in Punjab, teaching physical education and sports. In Punjab, they lived within a half hour drive of each other but they never met. Their friendship began in Canberra when they both worked as casual educators at Bruce Early Childhood Centre (one of BCS’s other Early Childhood Centres).
Both Raj and Sharanjit began working at Belconnen Early Childhood Centre in 2011 and for both of them; it’s their first permanent job in Australia.
Many cultural festivals from around the world are celebrated at BECC and one of the favourites is Diwali, the Indian Festival of Lights. Raj and Sharanjit bring special objects from home to share with the children. Sharanjit says, “Celebrating our festival is the best thing because I am not missing my country.”
Dancing to Indian music in the balcony garden is something that the children enjoy all year round. And with these two educator’s experience as sports teachers, there is also lots of running and ball games.
Sharahjit and Raj both speak Hindi and Punjabi. Raj, who works in the pre-school room, says that sometimes families from India or Pakistan come to the centre. Sometimes her room leader assigns Raj to talk with parents. “Parents will explain more things to me because they are not confident with English.”
Raj always encourages the children in these families to speak English but sometimes they need help. “They can’t understand English so I can help with my languages. I say something in English first and then if they can’t understand, I will say it in my language. How quickly the child learns depends on the child and on what language is used at home.”
While talking to Raj and Sharanjit, it becomes clear that BECC is like a second home for them. Raj says, “I love this centre because the staff is helpful. They know what we need and they understand our feelings and that helps us to give the best care to the children.”
All three of the educators we spoke to also agree that being located in the mall is great because they all love shopping!
Belconnen Early Childhood Centre is open from 7.45am to 6.00pm Monday to Friday. It is licenced for 45 children. Morning and afternoon tea are provided.
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