Ferne van Zyl established The Independent Child in 2014 to provide support and resources for parents and educators of young children from birth to 6 years and older. The motivation is to nurture the inborn drive of every child - "I can do it myself". The Independent Child's goal is to offer knowledge about development, practical guidance, support and solutions to parents and educators through workshops, resources, individual consultations and mentoring.
Ferne is a Zambian, Zimbabwean, South African, Australian, who hails from a very large, internationally based family and can’t remember a time when little children have not been a part of her life. While bringing up her own 4 children she fostered children from disadvantaged backgrounds, ran a home based family day care, and facilitated programs for babies and toddlers at church. In 2002 she obtained the AMI Assistants to Infancy Diploma.
From 2002-2014 Ferne was the owner and operator of Down Under 3, a centre that offered educational programmes for babies and toddlers based on Montessori learning principles. Through her work with parents and carers she began facilitating the hugely successful Faber and Mazlish parent workshops “How to Talk so Kids will Listen”, and “Siblings without Rivalry” as well as developing a “Toileting Independence” workshop which earned her the nick-name “The Poo-Poo Guru”.
Ferne currently consults to parents, early childhood centres and schools providing training and support. She advises on setting up environments for independence, teaches effective communication skills and offers practical strategies for dealing with challenging behaviour.
Most recently she has become part of the team who are involved in mentoring the Montessori educators of the “Strait Start” programs in the Torres Straits and as well as the Koolkan Early Childhood Centre in Aurukun.