Have you ever thought about working with children? Rozanna Mene gives us a glimpse into her busy day.
If you have a child in ECE, you might have met the centre manager when you first visited, and then give them an occasional wave when you’re dropping off or picking up. But do you really know what a childcare centre manager does all day?
Prepare to be surprised – and humbled. Rozanna Mene’s day starts at 6am. She’s a qualified teacher, too, so spends quite a lot of time in the classroom environment working alongside kaiako and tamariki. Here is a diary of one of her recent days as Centre Manager at Kindercare Mairangi Bay, Auckland.
6AM: Look at the day ahead, perhaps glance over a few emails while I have a quiet moment. Work with my Centre Supervisor on planning our day if we have any of our team call in sick. This might take an hour or so to do, calling relievers and moving teachers around if necessary.
7AM: Get myself and my family ready for the day, possibly make a few phone calls to make last-minute changes to the day ahead.
8AM: Arrive at work. Today we organised coffee to go as a treat for our parents on their way out. This is just one of the many ways we serve our parents practically because while children matter, their whānau matters just as much. We also value celebrating special days like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day by gifting parents a little treat, serving morning tea for our team, and acknowledging and rewarding individual team successes serving with love. At the moment, we’re planning our centre’s 30th birthday party!
8.30AM: I connect in with my team – kaiako, cooks, leadership team, and Centre Administrator. This helps me understand where they’re at, and how I can best support and add value, which I believe ultimately provides best outcomes for our children. I communicate with tamariki and whānau as they start to arrive for the day, and chat with my leadership team on what’s happening in the centre, and if any there are any absent children or parent queries.
9.30AM: Occasionally at this time I connect with my Area Manager to keep her up-to-date with what is happening in the centre. Being able to communicate with her regularly outside of her time at the centre is a great support. She’s always only a call away.
10AM: Mentor meeting with one of my teachers. We have 29 team members, and I meet one-on-one with each of them every six weeks. This is a short check-in about their professional growth goals, celebrating their successes and supporting their developments. I also connect with my leadership team often, as it is important that they are continuously developing leadership capabilities to enable us to have a high-functioning team providing outstanding care and education for tamariki.
11AM: An exciting part of my day is getting to collaborate with kaiako in our newly established STEAM learning environment, focussing on science, technology, engineering, the arts, and maths. We coach and work alongside kaiako in partnership with our Curriculum team on how to use this space, with regular follow-up to see how the teams are going with their groups of children.
12 NOON: After a lunch break I have a reliever interview. On occasion we need new relievers because our relievers have been recruited into full-time positions after studying, so I spend time with a potential new reliever showing them around the centre environment. If they’re successful, I’ll need to ensure I have all their paperwork in order: Contract, reference checks, police vets, and safety checks, to name a few.
1PM: Meet with one of our teachers about making a referral for a child to an outside service. Kindercare Learning Centres have a Family Services arm that is unique to our organisation. This is because we believe every child should have the opportunity to learn, grow, and thrive. Sometimes, in order for us to support the development of some children, we partner with an outside service – always in collaboration with the child’s family. Our team have been incredible in building their knowledge and understanding of referrals. They gather evidence through observations which could be a timeline, tick chart etc. Without that information, I can’t write a referral. Referrals are also done in partnership with parents – the child’s key teacher meets with the parents and me, and we talk through the referral, the requirements, the requirements, and what we need to do, then get parents’ signoff before the referral is sent.
1.45PM: A quick trip to the local supermarket. Something that might seem unusual to others, but is normal for me, is that I always fit in time to go shopping for families in need. Today I’m making up a food parcel for one of our whānau who needs a helping hand. I also chat to our centre cooks about making extra food for evening meals for some families who may need some extra support from us. We have a wide variety of families here, and some need just a little bit of extra love and support at times. By supporting our families, we know that is going to significantly support the best outcomes for children.
2.30PM: I take a call about our local Young Mum Program. This initiative is run by the incredible people at The Gracegate Centre, supporting teenage or young mothers as well as any hapū māmā with life skills to support them on their parenting journey. It’s really rewarding to see these young parents grow, thrive, and gain the skills they need to be great parents.
3PM: Meeting with an outside agency if required. A few times a week I meet with agencies like Oranga Tamariki, Speech/Language Therapy, Early Intervention, or local schools to support a smooth transition for our tamariki into kura. It requires a lot of organisation to meet, as there are sometimes several external people involved.
4PM: Another important meeting, this time with a parent. Our local curriculum focusses on whanaungatanga (relationships), so having strong reciprocal relationships with our parents is important. I have an open-door policy where whānau can come and connect with me and for support for themselves and their families. We conduct parent-teacher interviews twice yearly, but we are open to meeting with parents at any time. Also, two of our kaiako are trained in Triple P (Positive Parenting Program), which supports us to work with and support parents in their journey. Our aim is to work in partnership with parents and whānau, building strong connections and relationships and understanding their aspirations to support their children to develop and grow.
4.30PM: Preparing for tomorrow, collaborating with my supervisor and focussing on a bit of forward planning. We plan ahead for staff annual leave, professional development, centre celebrations, and parent events.
5PM: This is always a busy time at our centre. There’s a buzz in the centre as parents and whānau arrive to pick up their children, and it’s another great opportunity for me to connect with our whānau to stay abreast of what’s happening in their family’s life journey.
5.30PM: Heading home to make dinner and spend some quality time with my own family.
8PM: Writing in my journal notebook before I go to sleep. I keep a journal at home to record my thoughts from the day, a nice way to wind down and relax.