A drive to better understand her daughter Charlotte Thompson's autism led Emily Thompson back to university, launching a career shaping Orange children's development.
When Charlotte received an autism diagnosis at five-years-old, Mrs Thomson enrolled in a teaching degree, subsequently setting up Magnolia Tree Family Day Care.
As one of several educators in Orange working within the Family Day Care group, Mrs Thompson has been announced a winner of an excellence award for the care she provides to five children, between two and three days per week.
I believe the children have ownership of the space so their interests guide what I teach themEmily Thompson
Mrs Thompson's philosophy for early education is to let the children decide the direction of the day, an idea she facilities by checking in with them first thing in the morning to see what's sparked their curiosity.
When the 12-month to four-year-old children arrive to start the day there are activities waiting but where the day heads to from their is often driven by them.
She said one of her favourite things they've come up with is a worm farm.
"They live for the days when it rains and there are a heap to dig up," she said.
The children also learn about sustainability and an Aboriginal perspective of everything they do.
They spend lots of time in the vegetable garden and cook lunch using things they've grown themselves.
"I believe the children have ownership of the space so their interests guide what I teach them," Mrs Thompson said.
As part of the Family Day Australia 2019 Excellence in Family Day Care Awards, Mrs Thompson is one of 68 regional winners now waiting to find out if they will be named in the top four, with the chance to be named a national winner at an awards ceremony in Hobart.
Mrs Thompson said she doesn't do the work for the recognition, but the fact she was nominated by some of the mums from her centre is rewarding.
"I do it because I'm truly passionate about it, because I love it. But to have that positive feedback is amazing," she said.
She said alongside her youngest daughter Matilda, Charlotte is thriving and joins in the play with the other children when she gets home from school.
Orange educators Dianne Bell, Kathy Hausle, Alyce Selwood, Lydia Smith and Kellie Tom were also recognised for their excellence in family day care.
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