New start discovered

VOLUNTEER: Berkeley mum Michelle Maltby volunteers at UOW’s Early Start Discovery Space while studying and running a family day care business. Picture: Paul JonesAt the age of 45 Berkeley mum Michelle Maltby is on a huge but thoroughly exciting learning curve.

As avolunteer at UOW’s Early Start Discovery Space and a student studying for a degree in early childhood, Mrs Maltbyspends her weekends teaching others new skills, while at the same time she is also hitting the books undertaking her own studies.

A mum of two school aged children, Mrs Maltby began studying the new flexible Bachelor of Education –The Early Years, this year and soon decided to beginvolunteering at the newly opened discovery space.

As a younger woman, Mrs Maltby hadalways wanted to pursue teaching, but a steady job that saw her become a manager was too good to give up. It wasn’t untilshe was made redundant20 years later, that she decided the time was right to give teaching a go.

Enrolling in TAFE, she undertook a Diploma of Children Services, and decided to open up her own family day care business. But within a few years she realised shewanted more, and decided to give university a go.

Once on campus she was immediately drawn to theEarly Start Discovery Space. Watching it develop from rubble to a magnificent buildingwas inspirational and she couldn’t wait to be part of it.

“Iwas so attracted to it,” Mrs Maltby said. “It was like a beacon.”

“When they said they needed volunteers I applied straight away.It was so exciting to be there from the start.”

As thousands of people in the Illawarracelebrated International Volunteers Day on December 5, Mrs Maltby reflected on the satisfaction she has gained from giving up her time to help others most Sundays.

“To know you are helping someone, is just great.”

She relishes the opportunity to help childrendevelop their communication skillsand build confidence by encouraging them to engage in a range of activities.

She said she also loved the opportunity volunteering gave her to interact with children and their parents through play.

“At the discovery centre we want parents to play with their children, to climb through the stomach with the kids and put on a hat in the construction zone.

“Thatis somethingI really enjoy encouraging the parents to do.Most parents are very receptive to that.

“It’s an excellent environment to volunteer in. I get a lot of satisfaction.”

When she graduates Mrs Maltby hopes to runan early childhood education and care centre or become involved in government education policy development.

The Discovery Space currently has about 60volunteers, with more needed. Anyone interested in volunteering canvisitearlystartdiscoveryspace.edu419论坛.

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