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Promoting Resilience in Higher Education

The Early Years profession

As a profession, the care and education of children in the Early Years is acknowledged as high demand and a complex educational environment. Contributing factors of work environment, income and societal status[1][2] and a dissonance between job description and actual practices[3] abound. Significant issues include staff attrition[4][5], relationships with colleagues[6], and working alongside professionals from other disciplines, including intervention services.

For the individual, there is evidence of poor physical and mental health[7][4][8][9][10] and risk of burnout[11][12][13]. In her early work, Sumsion[14][15] focused on individual resilience and career commitment, and the importance of personal qualities, contextual features and the interplay between them.  The work of Gu and Day[16] and Gu and Li[17] attended to the ways in which teachers can be supported in terms of resilience, as individuals interact with the contexts in which they live. In Australia, Kidsmatter[18] has drawn attention to the importance of professional resilience for early years educators, and a study as part of the Start Well Projects likewise identified resilience as important to maximise the social and emotional wellbeing of early childhood educators.[19]


  1. ^Barford, S., & Whelton, W. (2010).  Understanding Burnout in Child and Youth Care Workers. Child Youth Care Forum, 39, 271-287.
  2. ^Vonderen, J. (2016). ‘High staff turnover in childcare sector affects children’s development, researcher says’, ABC News, 29 June, viewed 31 August 2017 , <http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-06-29/high-staff-turnover-in-childcare-sector-affects-kids-development/7555038> 
  3. ^Lee, R., & Brotheridge, C. (2011). Words from the heart speak to the heart, A study of deep acting, faking and hiding among child care workers.  Career Development International, 16(4), 401-420.
  4. ^Corr, L., LaMontagne, A.D., Cook, K., Waters, E., & Davis, E. (2015). Associations between Australian early childhood educators’ mental health and working conditions: A cross sectional study.  Australasian Journal of Early Childhood, 40(3), 69-78.
  5. ^Jovanovic, J. (2013).  Retaining early childcare educators. Gender, Work and Organisation20(5), 529-544. 
  6. ^Cumming, T. (2016).  Early childhood educators’ wellbeing: an updated review of the literature. Early Childhood Education Journal, 45, 583-593.
  7. ^Corr, L., Davis, E., LaMontagne, A., Waters, E., & Stele, E. (2014).  Childcare providers’ mental health: a systematic review of its prevalence, determinants ad relationship to care quality. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 16(4), 231-263.
  8. ^Faulkner, M., Gerstenblatt, P., Lee, A., Vallejo, V., & Travis, D. (2016).  Childcare providers: Work stress and personal wellbeing.  Journal of Early Childhood Research, 12(3), 280-293.
  9. ^Laletas, S., Reupert, A., & Goodyear, M. (2017). “What do we do? This is not our area”. Childcare providers’ experiences when working with families and preschool children living with parental mental illness. Children and Youth Services Review, 74, 71-79.
  10. ^TTansey, S. (2008). Managing stress in child care services. Extract from Putting Children First, the magazine of the National Childcare Accreditation Council (NCAC). Issue 26 June 2008 (Pages 24-26)
  11. ^Ammendolia, C., Côté, P., Cancelliere, C., Cassidy, D., Hartvigsen, J., Boyle, E., Soklaridis, S., Stern, P., & Amick, B. (2016).  Healthy and productive workers: using intervention mapping to design a workplace health promotion and wellness program to improve presenteeism. BMC Public Health, 16, 1-18. 
  12. ^Ben-Zur, H., & Michael, K. (2007). Burnout, Social Support, and Coping at Work Among Social Workers, Psychologists, and Nurses. Social Work in Health Care, 45(4), 63-82. 
  13. ^Seti, C. (2007). Causes and Treatment of Burnout in Residential Child Care Workers: A Review of the Research. Residential Treatment for Children and Youth, 24(3), 197-229. 
  14. ^Sumsion, J. (2004). Early childhood teachers’ construction of their resilience and thriving: A continuing investigation. International Journal of Early Years Education, 12(3), 275-290.
  15. ^Sumsion, J. (2003). Rereading metaphors as cultural texts: A case study of early childhood attrition. The Australian Educational Researcher, 30(3), 67-87.
  16. ^Gu, Q., & Day, C. (2013). Challenges to teacher resilience: conditions count. British Educational Research Journal, 39(1), 22-44. DOI: 10.1080/01411926.2011.62315
  17. ^Gu, Q., & Li, Q. (2013). Sustaining resilience in times of change: Stories from Chinese teachers. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 41(3), 288-303. DOI:10.1080/1359866X.2013.809056
  18. ^Kidsmatter, https://www.kidsmatter.edu.au/primary
  19. ^HIMH, 2017 Start Well project: Supporting resilience and wellbeing in early career teachers https://everymind.org.au/research/start-well
Australian Government