How to Work in the Same Service as Your Child

When I was directing, many years back, my son started attending the service. It was convenient, I loved seeing him content in such a beautiful setting, I knew he was well cared for, and yet it still had its challenges. We would arrive in the morning and put away my belongings, and his belongings. I would take him to an educator and help him to get settled into play. Then I would leave and head to the office. And for a little while, he would cry. And my heart would break just a little. You see, I knew it was lucky to have him "with me", and yet he wasn't really with me, was he? 
This is the struggle that many educators have when they work in the same service as their child. Now sure, you could say "well just put them in another service", but there are many reasons why an educator may not do that: 
  • Location/proximity 
  • Wanting your child in your service because it is high quality
  • Availability (or lack of) of places at other services
  • Familiarity of educators
  • Shared vision/philosophy

And so, we struggle on. 

But there are some things we can do to make it just a little easier for both children and educators, when there are familial relationships in services. 

For the Child

  • Ensure they are treated like other children
  • Support them to build secure relationships with other educators

For the Educator/Parent

  • Have time to settle your child before you begin your shift, just like other parents
  • Create small rituals with your child that help you feel connected
  • Set clear boundaries with your colleagues early on
  • Allow the other educators to care for your child - don't step in where not needed. 

For other educators

  • Support the educator to settle in their child - just as you would for any other parent and child
  • Share information with the educator/parent about their child, in the same way that you would for other children
  • Build a relationship with the child 
  • If there are challenges, discuss them with the educator respectfully, or confidentially with a manager
  • Have empathy for your colleague - this won't always be easy for them

For Services

  • Consider the placement of educators and children - their proximity to one another and how this will impact them
  • Ensure that the educator and child receive the same orientation and support as other families
  • Have regular, honest conversations about how the situation is working for all involved.
  • Develop clear policies and procedures so that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and rights and can be guided appropriately should issues arise. 


We've heard from many educators that it is challenging to have educator/parents and their children in the same service. For example, they may feel like the parent is always stepping in and taking over when it comes to their child, or they may feel like the parent should be stepping in. 

My experience with my son wasn't my first experience with this type of situation. About six years earlier, my now husbands much younger brother started attending the service I was working in. He was only about two and a half at the time and had some separation anxiety. I'd take him and get him settled in the toddler room before heading to the preschool room to work. He would settle for brief periods and then I would hear his wails up the hallway between the rooms, hear him calling my name desperately. And it was awful. It took months of settling, and resettling, and comforting and reassuring and connection, for him to feel safe and secure knowing I was on the other side of that door. Now that he is a burly 22 year old who towers over me, I like to remind him regularly of just how much he loved me! 


Our work is about supporting families

Supporting families should be one of our key aims in early childhood, and that includes the families that exist within our staff. It won't always be easy or smooth, but with clear policies, boundaries and expectations, we can typically ensure that educator parents, children and the educators that care for them, are settled and supported. 


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