My first job in childcare was in a home-based Nursery nestled in the English countryside. The home was lovely. It was small and quaint, as you would expect an English country residence to be.
Children had the feeling of visiting family for the day. They played with their friends and built lasting relationships that would become significant in the small remote town.
When I first walked into Pachamama, that same feeling of contentment came over me. And the beautiful aroma of fresh lemongrass that made my soul smile.
I had worked in other childcare services in Western Australia, but they never got to the root of that feeling. Until I visited Pachamama, I didn’t realise how much I missed it.
Pachamama hit that mark and brought back all those wonderful memories of my first job at 15 years old, which to me is a place that feels like home.
Like my first experience with the English Nursery being a real home … that’s what I get from Pachamama. We have formal but comfortable lounge chair seating on a huge handmade oriental rug. The children take off their shoes to play games around the intimate coffee table.
Just inside the large double jarrah doors adjacent to the kitchenette is a grand dining table featuring a fruit bowl for the children to meet their hunger needs with autonomy. Overhead is a beautiful Murano hand blown glass chandelier beaming the colours of the rainbow when the sun hits its beauty.
The chandelier is a special piece to me because the Nursery in England had a chandelier in the sleep room. The children would lay in their bed peacefully mesmerised by the exquisite dangling crystals and drift off to a sound sleep.
Seeing this unique piece in Pachamama for the older school-aged children is a magical moment because it’s something you normally only would see in grand places and fairytales. It displays respect to the children to honour them with such things of beauty while the sit around the table under the chandelier sharing meals together, passing the food and cutlery to one another, laughing, chatting, or enjoying a board game or colouring in.
The benefits children receive from feeling they are a valued member of a community is immense. It sets the foundation for a sense of belonging and has been found to help protect children against mental health problems and improve their learning.
I have witnessed that children who feel they belong are happier, more relaxed, and have fewer behavioural problems than others. I have been told by families their child is more calm and happy after joining Pachamama’s homely, warm and inviting environments. They are reportedly also more motivated about life and more successful learners.
Pachamama’s environments support the children and families by establishing a deep root system for greater stability in life as they experience family values and traditions by eating at the table together, stacking the dishwasher or sitting in the lounge room reading a book with an educator.
When I conduct family tours of the service, they are always ‘blown away’ with what they see. They are in awe and say things like, “Wow, I wish I could live here. I wish my home looked like this!”
Quite often at the end of the tour, the families will stop and stay for a while after their busy day to enjoy Pachamama and chat while watching their child play.
A home-like environment helps children feel safe and comfortable. It encourages positive, nurturing, and stress-free interactions and relationships with their peers and educators.
We find that educators prefer to work in an environment like ours. They feel the same benefits that the children and I do, resulting in a significantly lower educator turnover and higher job satisfaction.
And this makes all the difference to the children at Pachamama!