Whanganui Barnardos educator Margaret McGrail is not one to seek the limelight but a parent thought her service so good that she nominated her for a national award.

"I appreciate the appreciation," said Mrs McGrail.

"You always assume that parents are happy with the service you provide and think they will tell you if they are not."

Margaret was runner-up in this year's Educator of the Year Award.


Barnardos KidStart childcare consultant Debbie Rogan said nominations for Barnardos Educator of the Year come from parents of children in home-based care.

"A team works through part of the process to narrow the selection down.

"This year the final five nominees were given to a lecturer at Massey University Auckland who made the final decision.

"Margaret was runner-up in this year's Educator of the Year Award and is one of nearly 800 educators in the Barnardos Kidstart organisation."

Mrs McGrail usually has up to four pre-schoolers at her home each day and has been educating pre-schoolers for 23 years.

"I trained when my youngest child started kindergarten and I have been doing this ever since," she said. "I thought it might be temporary but I still enjoy it."

Home-based educators teach the early childhood curriculum and have the same reporting requirements as early childhood centres.

"Some people think that home-based carers are baby-sitters but we are educators," said Mrs McGrail.

"For me it's about encouraging children to explore life while ensuring that they feel nurtured and safe."

Most days, she teams up with Maree Groves, another home-based educator, and they take all the children to community activities such as Little Movers at Tawhero School or the Gonville library.

Both places are within walking distance of the McGrail home so the children get the opportunity to explore the neighbourhood.

"It is important to take children out for walks and exercise their bodies as well as their curiosity so we always walk when the weather is fine," she said.

The only downside to her work, she says, is that children grow up and move on to school which has recently happened for one of the children but she will soon have a baby coming to her home to join her little crew.