A BENDIGO early childhood educator has been recognised for her dedication to teaching our younger generations with a national award.
Sheridan Chandler, a early childhood education and care professional registered with Mt Alexander Family Day Care, has been awarded the 2021 Family Day Care Australia Excellence in the Family Day Care Awards.
Ms Chandler, who has been working in the industry for more than a decade, said she couldn't believe it when she found out the news of her award.
"I couldn't be more thankful," she said.
"I have an amazing group of families who support me and Mt Alexander Family Day care have been so amazing to work with, I can't thank them all enough."
As an aspiring teacher, Ms Chandler discovered her passions were leading her down a slightly different path.
"I was a 26-year-old mum to two little children and I saw an ad come on television for family day care," she said.
"I was studying to be a teacher at the time and when I saw the ad I thought, 'wow there's something else other than an institution for children?'.
"So instead of going back to my degree, I decided to stay home and teach my own children and eventually others."
From there, Sheridan's Family Day Care was born on her property in Lockwood South.
And for the past 13 years, Ms Chandler has made it her mission to "start where they begin" and give all kids in her care the most enriching experience possible.
"I look after children as young as 12-weeks-old and anywhere up for kinder aged," she said.
"Once they're settled in for the day, they're free to see what's new in the environment with some free play and once it's warm enough I try and get them outside.
"I want them to learn anything from sharing to how to cook and anything in between.
"We have sheep on our little patch of land and sometimes we get out and feed them or play in the sandpit or we're inside learning about different cultures through stories and cooking.
"I just want then to have as rich an education as possible."
Ms Chandler said the children she has each day have become part of her family.
"My husband will often come home during the day and all the kids have gotten to know him and my own kids," she said.
"The parents are so amazing too and I couldn't have asked for better families in this job."
Celebrating its tenth year, the 2021 Awards shine a light on the incredible early childhood education and care experiences provided to more than 93,000 children, in natural and nurturing home leaning environments across the country.
Family Day Care Australia chief executive Andrew Paterson spoke to the incredible achievements of Ms Chandler.
"Educators like Sheridan provide vital support to children, families and communities all across Australia," he said.
"The flexible, high quality early education provided by educators like Sheridan is what makes family day care so unique and is the reason why so many families chose family day care."
The event is the only national awards program dedicated specifically to recognising the work and achievements of the 12,0001-strong community of family day care educators across Australia.
Ms Chandler is now in the running to be named as one of four National Educator Finalists, to be announced on October 26.
The national finalists will then attend the 2021 Excellence in Family Day Care Awards presentation, where the National Educator of the Year will be named.
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