Every child has a song inside: Stories from a lifetime in ECEC
The Sector > Workforce > Every child has song inside: Kay Harling shares lessons from a lifetime of ECEC

Every child has song inside: Kay Harling shares lessons from a lifetime of ECEC

by Freya Lucas

September 07, 2023

Kay Harling is a Director and Kindergarten Teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic Kindergarten, Bundaberg has spent many years working in education, and has learnt one lesson more strongly than any other “every child has song inside; it’s our job to turn up the volume”.


Ms Harling shared her story with local publication Bundaberg Today


As the eldest of three children, Ms Harling was often occupying her younger siblings with play while her parents attended to farm chores. When she got older she went to boarding school, which inspired her to follow a career in education. 


She initially worked as a teachers aide, but was drawn to complete a Certificate 3 in Early Childhood to help her understand more about developmental milestones and gain a better understanding of how children learn.


Her early learning career started in a small kindergarten in the rural town of Blackwater in Queensland, before moving to Brisbane and continuing to study, gaining a Diploma in Early Childhood while working at Coorparoo Kindergarten.


“After that we then moved to Emerald in Central Queensland where my new job was in a new kindergarten with a great mentor, who convinced me to start my Bachelor of Early Childhood,” she said. 


Once qualified, Ms Harling took on the role of director at Emerald Community kindergarten, a position she held for 15 years.


One of the things she loves the most about working in the sector is that children are so honest, and that they have a joy that makes her see the world in a different way every day.


“Children allow you to share in their experiences, and I get to see them grow, learn and develop while they are in our care,” she shared with Bundaberg Today.


She has a passion for setting up beautiful play provocations for children to learn through and explore, and often incorporates reused and repurposed materials, along with natural materials. 


Sharing the stories of First Nations people is also a priority “so that they can learn from the past as well as the future, just as the First Nations people do so well”.


While things have changed in the sector during her time in education, she continued, some things have stayed the same like the importance of families, and the role early learning plays in setting children up for life. 


With the Queensland Government announcing that from 2024 kindergarten will be free, and with the success of the Kindy Uplift government initiative, she is excited about what’s to come. 


“We provide a learning environment that allows children to have time, space and many open-ended resources to support the development of these skills,” she said. 


“The skills that help a little person ease into prep, can include independence, confidence, physical skills, self-care, concentration, emotional regulation, problem solving, social skills, speech skills and language skills.”


Learn more about St Joseph’s Catholic Kindergarten here. The original coverage of this story is available here. 

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