Beloved Bethany Kindergarten Services teacher Belinda Mutton will call time on her 34-year career in early childhood education at the end of this year.
Her retirement will mark the end of almost 19 years working for Bethany Kindergarten Services (formerly Geelong Kindergarten Association).
Belinda, who currently teachers at Fyans Park Kindergarten in Newtown, reflected on her time working for Bethany Kindergarten Services –
What is your favourite part of your job?
I enjoy engaging in conversation with children and reading with them. Their comments and reactions can be so enlightening and amusing. I have fun singing and storytelling with them as a group and engaging in group games. I love it when a child makes a discovery, about the world or their own achievement.
What do you love about teaching the children at Fyans Park?
The team is supportive of each other, and everyone respects what everyone else does. It is a lovely physical environment. The children and families show their respect and appreciation for what we do. The children are delightful.
What has been the biggest change you’ve noticed in the sector, in terms of teaching children, since your career started?
The length of the sessions and number of hours the children attend has meant that life slows down at kindergarten. The children have shown us that they can sustain interest in an endeavor for hours, not the 10 minutes that was expected 30 years ago. This has meant that the children are learning a lot more and having deeper engagement. Another big change is in the use of technology. It has made much of what we do easier but has also come with much more non-contact work and less time in which to do it.
If you have worked for other organisations, what are some differences that you’ve found working for Bethany Kindergarten Services (BKS)?
A difference is the employment opportunities with BKS which have been great. Being able to change positions and timetables within a kindergarten or move to a different one when the situation doesn’t suit, and having support to adjust, have enabled continuity of employment without too much hassle.
Children often say funny, surprising things – tell us about a time a child made you laugh at work.
Years ago, when my mother was my age and staying with me, she came to kinder for the day. As we were waiting at the door to go out, one of the children was watching her very curiously and then asked, “Are you a witch?” Being a bit of an actress, she replied in an appropriate voice that she was. The children were very wary of her until she admitted she wasn’t.
During the covid pandemic one child looked at me very worried. “Are you going to die?” I said not for a long time and asked what made him think I would. “Because old people die of coronavirus, and you are old!” He was so serious I had to suppress a smile and put his mind at rest.
What is the best life-lesson you have learnt from a child?
To enjoy the moment and not be in too much of a hurry. I have to keep reminding myself to do it.