In every culture, childhood is a special time. It is perhaps the most powerful period of our lives. Our experiences form the foundation of what we become, the core of our being – our ability to learn, our sense of ourselves in relation to the world of nature, people, of things. It is a time for powerful experiences that forever fuel the scientist, the poet, the artist and the creator within us. Recapturing now and then childhood’s wonder secures a driving force for grownup thoughts. It is a time that most of us draw on forever for moments of warmth and security.Childhood is momentous…
— Jim Greenman – Caring Spaces, Learning Places
The first five years matter and last a lifetime.
We believe passionately that every child has a right to a happy early childhood. When they look back at their childhood it should be filled with wonderful memories of fun, friends and freedom of cubbies and 'critters', mud pies and mulberries, bikes and beetles, treasure and tadpoles, laughter and learning, comfort and caring, warmth and welcome.
Children spend many hours in child care and it must be a place of warmth and welcome, where they feel 'at home', are valued and understood. To build wonderful childhood memories children must have a sense of 'ownership' of their environment. It must be 'their place', it must look, feel, sound and smell right, it must be as comfortable as 'an old pair of shoes'. Children must feel that they belong.
“The child is wonderfully prepared for active learning from birth. Children approach the world with all senses open, all motors running – the world is an invitation to experience. Their job is to develop and test all their equipment, make sense of the confusing world of people and things and unseen mysterious forces and relationships like gravity, number and love.
— Jim Greenman – Caring Spaces, Learning Places
Our centre is not an artificial place where children are 'entertained'. It is a place where there is a mixture of positive direction and freedom, where children are provided with the time, space and tools and the skills to use them, to enable them to 'co-direct' their learning through play. This is a place where adults and children work in partnership, co-constructing learning. Our educators are role models, mentors and guides, facilitators and partners for learning, fostering children’s natural curiosity and encouraging, challenging and empowering them on their journey to become confident and involved life-long learners who…
[…] looks in wonder or asks why or shares a thought or experience, object or feeling and it triggers the journey to a thousand places, a thousand questions and reveals each child’s unique capacity to know and understand their world.
Programmes are developed around each child’s strengths, interests, abilities, knowledge and skills, family and community culture. Through ongoing refection, educators gather rich and meaningful information about each child and plan for and document each child’s learning journey.
We believe strongly that our environment is the vital 'third teacher' so place a premium on developing and maintaining rich natural playgrounds where children can engage in outdoor, experiential play and learning in nature which significantly contributes to their potential for learning and development. Early childhood is a period when foundations of thinking, being, knowing and acting are becoming 'hard wired' and relationships – with others and the environment – are becoming established so early learning is important in shaping environmental attitudes, knowledge and actions.
We believe that a democratic approach best encourages development in all of the above areas. A democratic approach encompasses concepts such as trust, co-operation, mutual respect, equality, inclusiveness, responsibility and choices. This democratic approach operates on all levels and in all relationships between management, educators, other staff members, families and children.
We believe that children learn best when they are actively engaged, feel in control of their lives and have frequent opportunities to make real choices and decisions. They need to have chances to solve problems and practise ways of controlling and organising aspects of the world they live in.
They need to build skills to be effective communicators, expressing to others their actions, wants, needs, thoughts and ideas, feelings and emotions, hopes and dreams.
In our rich, nurturing learning environments, responsive adults build respectful and reciprocal relationships with children. They engage in meaningful interactions which foster a strong sense of social and emotional wellbeing in each child so crucial for young children’s brain development.
In an atmosphere of sensitivity, kindness, acceptance, understanding, and trust, children are supported to develop a strong sense of identity through their growth in independence, confidence, resilience and capacity to self-regulate.