Lily's volunteer journey
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > For Lily, spending time at Fairy Hills Kindergarten has seen her come full circle

For Lily, spending time at Fairy Hills Kindergarten has seen her come full circle

by Freya Lucas

November 13, 2023

When Lily attended Fairy Hills Kindergarten 23 years ago, she never could have imagined returning more than two decades later to give back to her kindergarten community as a volunteer, but having this deeply personal connection has made her volunteer experience all the more special. 


“I was looking for a place to volunteer with children,” she explained to Kids First Communications Lead April Chaplin. 


“At that time, I was completing my studies in audiology and I hadn’t had opportunities to do a lot of paediatric contact hours. We don’t have any young kids in our family, so I wanted to enhance my confidence working with kids.”


She began helping out once per week, mainly with two and three year olds, playing educational games, exploring the playground and generally engaging with the children and having fun. 


“I’d also accompany the educators and kids on excursions around Ivanhoe, helping them cross the road, things like that,” she added. 


“Neena [Lead Teacher at Fairy Hills] was really friendly, welcoming and accommodating.”


 Reflecting on some of the special moments of her time as a volunteer, Lily recalls one of the children she worked with, who was quiet and seemed shy. 


“I made some extra effort with her, asking her questions, and I got her talking to me. She was actually really outgoing and sweet and smart,” she said.


“I was a very shy kid, and mum would always push me to go and get that icy pole, go and talk to that person, otherwise you’ll miss out. And I think I recognised that shyness in that little girl. I thought, ‘she’s so much like I was!’. Opportunities to connect with children like that has helped me learn to connect with kids more generally.”


Walking into the kindergarten, and seeing some of the boats in the playground and the blocks in the indoor space made Lily feel nostalgic. 


“The stained glass, the little costumes – all those things are still there from when I was there, so it was very nostalgic seeing children have the same magical experiences that I did, with the toys I played with, and in the space I remember. That was very special for me.”


“Also, interacting with kids didn’t come naturally to me, so it was a good experience to be a little bit silly and practise engaging with children. Learning how to talk to someone else’s child is such a valuable skill – if you don’t have experience doing it, how would you know how to do it?”


For others thinking of volunteering, Lily says ‘go for it.’ 


“Each day was different. The sessions were never repetitive, which kept it fun and engaging for me and also for the kids. One day you’d be playing with paints, the next you’d be helping with ‘cooking’ in the ‘kitchen’ or clay moulding. And the kids think you’re an amazing artist – lots of compliments on my artwork, which is always nice!”


Lily said the teachers and educators were warm and welcoming, and that she always felt valued. 


“If the kids were misbehaving, I found that challenging to deal with as I didn’t know how to handle it, but the teachers were always quick to step in. They had this incredible way of resolving conflict or challenging behaviour with empathy. That was educational for me to see,” she said. 


“I know the teachers appreciated having me there, as much as I appreciated the opportunity.In the kindergarten, no two days are the same, the kids made my time so special and they will for you, too.” 


“If you have the time and you’re wanting to help out in your community, volunteering is a very rewarding thing to do.”


Kids First advertise volunteering opportunities here. For more information about volunteering in your local community, please visit Volunteering Australia

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