ANA BARNETT, TITIRANGI, AUCKLAND For Auckland parents Ana and Chris Barnett, home-based care was always going to be the number one choice for their children’s early childhood education. Their son Ryan, now four, enjoyed home-based care from 16 months until starting preschool at three years old, so they didn’t hesitate to settle their daughter Emily, 18 months, into a similar situation when Ana returned part-time to her job as an accountant at KPMG. “We wanted Emily to be in a home environment where she could do the types of activities that I would do with her on the days I wasn’t working, such as playgroup or Mainly Music,” says Ana. “We also wanted her to be involved in day-to-day family activities and develop a good relationship with her carer, and we needed to have some flexibility over start and finish times.” Ryan’s home-based carer was no longer available, so Ana asked for recommendations online and was led to Wendy Claxton, a Porse in-home educator. “Wendy has been with Porse for 10 years,” says Ana. “She’s been involved in early childhood education for 23 years and has also been a foster parent, so I instantly had a good feeling about her because of her experience. I was also impressed with the warm, comfortable environment that she provided in her home.” Emily is now with Wendy three days a week, from about 7am until 4.30pm. Three other children are also in Wendy’s care and she provides them with nutritious food and a cosy place to sleep (the two sleeping children each have a cot in a separate room). Wendy also has car seats installed in her vehicle so she can take the kids to social activities such as Mainly Music and playgroup, as well as excursions to the beach or zoo. At home, Wendy keeps the wee ones entertained with arts and crafts, water play, books and music, and encourages them to independently explore the indoor and outdoor play areas. Ana says there have been no issues with the arrangement and it’s a win-win for her and Chris: Emily gets to stick to her daily routine in a cosy home environment while still venturing out and about to socialise with other children, and is offered a good mix of free play vs educational activities. “For us, having Emily in a homecare environment has also meant less illness and time off work,” says Ana. “But the best benefit for our family is knowing that Emily is well looked after and feels happy and secure. She gets to participate in lots of fun activities and outings with her homecare friends and enjoys a wide variety of experiences. She’s very comfortable with Wendy, and is always happy and settled when I pick her up at the end of the day.”
Ana and Chris with Ryan and Emily.