Transition visits, social stories, visual cues cards and positive behaviour charts are some of the resources Kerrianne White organises to help children in the classroom.
Kerrianne supports children with disabilities and developmental learning delays, with an emphasis on inclusion in mainstream settings.
For families, discovering their child is experiencing challenges can be overwhelming, confusing and emotional. There’s lots of information to take on board, which is why Kerrianne’s role as a Key Worker and Special Education Teacher at Early Connections is so important.
“I’m the primary point of contact for families seeking Early Childhood Intervention. I act as a link between our team of professionals and the community,” said Kerrianne, who connects children with the therapy and inclusion they need. Her role is to support the team around each child.
Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Psychology and Physiotherapy are offered at Early Connections in Port Macquarie, Lake Cathie and Wauchope.
Kerrianne joined the Early Connections team seven years ago, after many years as an educator at local preschools.
This experience gives her a natural insight into the challenges of a busy classroom and a keen eye for recognising opportunities to build on children’s strengths and teachers’ capacity to help.
Kerrianne helps the teacher and the child with strategies for a particular behaviour, routines, managing emotions and learning.
“We don’t want to add to teachers’ workload or reinvent the wheel, but a fresh pair of eyes whilst focusing on one child instead of thirty can make a big difference,” said Kerrianne.
“I’m like a ‘GPS’ for parents, helping them navigate the services and supports to maximise their child’s learning. I link teachers and parents with the places they need – whether it’s a service in the community, playgroups, schools, swimming lessons, shops for educational toys or learning resources to help with their disability.”
Kerrianne is passionate about making sure all children can learn, play and connect with their community. Ensuring a smooth transition to school is a big part of her role. “I offer a fresh perspective and alternatives for the teacher and family. I’m really there as an extra pair of hands.”
A Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood Education and Diploma in Children’s Services gave Kerrianne the foundation for a career with children. Each day requires lots of patience and problem solving, as well as empathy and good listening skills.
Currently Kerrianne is transitioning 23 children into local primary schools. This involves working closely with Early Childhood Centres, schools and most importantly, the families.
Children may need modifications in the classroom, like using a texta instead of a pencil, or a whiteboard instead of paper, as well as more complex needs.
It’s a natural step to support families through the school transition. Kerrianne has formed trusting relationships with each child since they first accessed Early Childhood Intervention as three year olds, or younger.
“I travel along a meaningful journey with the parents and children I work with, and it’s so rewarding to share these important milestones with families,” said Kerrianne.
7:00 Wake up, feed dog, drink cup of tea, breakfast, get ready for work and kids ready for school.
8:15 Arrive to work; sign in. Phone calls and emails.
8:30 Team meeting to discuss different families’ needs. We are a transdisciplinary team and work collaboratively, sharing the responsibilities of evaluating, planning, and implementing services with children and their families.
9:15 Three visits to see children at their preschools, homes and within the community.
12:30 Back to Early Connections office for phone calls, emails to families and planning with the team for National Disability Insurance Scheme transitions.
1:00 Lunch break and laughter with the team.
1:30 Complete service reports, follow up with Early Connections therapists and professionals within the community.
3:00 Follow up phone calls, emails and prepare learning resources as needed.
4:00 Home to spend time with my family.