Debbie Miller


Debbie Miller is the Director of Education and Learning at Pathways to Resilience Trust. She is an experienced educator specialising in Early Childhood and has worked extensively across the educational field, as an educator in early years settings to tutoring in tertiary education. Her focus at the Trust is on the accessibility of social and emotional learning for children, developing safe environments and communication strategies based on brain based learning. This is achieved by supporting educators and key stakeholders in a process of critical reflection of practice. She regularly presents at conferences on strengths based practice to develop resilience, support behaviour and children’s wellbeing. She is the author of ‘Wings to Fly’- an approach to social and emotional wellbeing in early years 0 to 5” which has recently been accredited as evidence based by the Australian Institute of Family Studies.


This paper reports on the development and implementation of an evidence –based program used with educators working with young children in child care centres in the Logan area in South-east Queensland.
Around 1.5 million children were attending a child care service according to the Childcare and Early Childhood Learning (2014) report published by the Productivity Commission. The Australian Early Development Census (2015) has identified that around 1 in 5 children are developmentally vulnerable in one or more of the domains (physical health and wellbeing; social competence; emotional maturity; language and cognitive skills and communication skills and general knowledge. The first three years of life is the time of greatest brain development in life, with 250,000 new brain cells created per minute from birth to 10 months. The child’s brain development is influenced by many factors with a complex interplay between genes and the environment. These environmental factors have a lasting effect on brain development, therefore is vital that we create enriching environments with communication that fosters and supports the wellbeing of children. These factors include for example, relationships, experiences, the physical environment and sleep.
Those adults whom work in the human services, social work, education and care sectors have a great influence on this development. The Wings Program aims to educate those working with young children of the importance of creating safe spaces and strong relationships to foster healthy brain growth. It is presented from the pedagogy of belief in a child’s strength and capability rather than a deficit model.

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