When her day-care charges head off to primary school each year, it’s hard for Laurel Nolan to watch them go.
‘‘I’ve got awesome families and fantastic kids, so it’s hard when they go off to big school,’’ she said.
‘‘You do get really attached because you have them from when they’re so little. You really do become part of their family and they become part of yours.’’
Mrs Nolan has been named the region’s best family day-care educator in the 2013 Excellence in Family Day Care Awards.
She has been running Laurel’s Day Care, which is part of Shellharbour/Kiama Family Day Care, in Gerringong for the past four years.
Although she had always been interested in early childhood education, it was only when her own children started school that she decided to pursue her passion.
She decided to start a family day care, which is run in the educator’s home, to fit around her family.
Three days a week she cares for five children – though she has seven preschoolers over the course of the week – reading them stories, creating artworks with playdough and paint and pencils and enjoying their company.
Mrs Nolan said she was honoured the families of the kids she cares for had nominated her for the award, and was even more thrilled to find out she was the regional winner.
‘‘It’s nice to be thanked and be given recognition for the work you do. I was amazed and stoked and felt so honoured.
‘‘I love being around the children, watching them grow and learn. I feel like I’m making a difference.’’
More than 2000 family day-care educators were nominated for the national awards. The state winner will be announced this month and the national winner on November 2.