Why Choose Us?
Joyful relationships based on love, respect and connectedness are the very heart of our kindergarten. Each day that they attend, the children are surrounded by the same group of children and the same educators. We talk, we laugh, we learn and we bond over shared experiences.
Connections with the natural world happen every day in our playground. It’s more than just cuddling the guinea pigs (although that is a favourite thing to do). Discovering insects, learning the names and habits of the birds that visit, finding worms in the garden, watching for frogs in the pond or native bees emerging from their hive are just some of the experiences on offer.
Our Christian faith teaches us that love is the greatest privilege and power. Through embracing love and connectedness, we help children understand the importance of gratitude and being appreciative of what we have. We infuse faith into all we do, integrating biblical principles and modelling and practicing our values through everyday activities.
It might look like playing with junk, but this is Loose Parts play. Loose parts are materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways. There are no directions as to how they are used. As they play, the children design, problem solve, co-operate, negotiate, engineer and develop critical thinking skills.
We don’t ignore aesthetics either – we plant seasonal flowers and have a specific “Picking Garden”, with a range of flowering and aromatic plants that the children enjoy using to create transient art, potions, flower jewellery or to arrange in vases for our tables. Throughout the different seasons of the year there are piles of Autumn leaves to play in, seed pods to collect and spring flowering bulbs to admire.
In addition to everyday access to high quality art materials and media, real musical instruments, singing and dancing, we have a long history of engagement with local artists. They have guided the children in everything from creating with clay to spinning wool, hand sewing and printmaking. We offer a music program, delivered by a qualified music teacher.
We recognize the many benefits that children gain when they are free to challenge themselves. Our children can choose to climb a ladder up into the fork of a tree and just sit. They have the opportunity to sizzles sausages or toast marshmallows over an open fire. They have access to spades, hammers, nails and hand saws, ropes, ladders, sticks and stones – all of which they treat with respect and use with confidence and capability.
One of our most treasured rituals is our daily “Candle Story”. We turn off the lights, sit in a circle on the floor, light a candle and enjoy a “told” story. A few simple props and the imagination of each participant transport us to other places and times. The story may be a Fairy Tale, a Bible story, a re-tell of a favourite book, a Dreamtime story, a folk tale from another land, or a fact based re-telling of an important subject, such as the Stolen Generations.
Belonging to our community is a cornerstone of our philosophy and practice. We regularly visit the school library and school staff regularly visit to read stories, play and interact with the children. Excursions take us out and about to the art gallery, post office, Men’s Shed, the hospital, a local farm, museums and parks. Parents and friends come to share their skills and interests, we have Family Nights, Grandparents Week and participate in events such as Baconfest and Under 8’s Week.
Woven throughout the rhythm of our days are opportunities for children to make decisions and to share their own experiences, ideas and interests. Social and emotional skill development is a priority. We guide children towards independence, resilience, self-regulation, perseverance and self-management. We include a specific “Wellbeing” program that focuses on recognition of emotions, protective behaviours, friendship skills and anti-bullying education.
We consistently offer experiences designed to instill deep respect and positive recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island culture. Our Bush Tucker Garden, carefully curated collection of picture books and inclusion of artefacts and symbols of culture offer Aboriginal perspectives spark both discussion and celebration of our First Nation people.
Children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, neurodiverse children and children with disabilities are embraced and celebrated. We are blessed to have, as an honorary member of our team, Anitta Stallwood. Anitta was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. She visits most weeks to play with the children – and along the way, teach them about inclusion, acceptance and tolerance.
Fostering environmental responsibility is deeply embedded at our kindy. The children participate in planting, tending, harvesting and cooking the produce from our vegetable gardens and fruit trees. They help care for our hens and collect their eggs. Food scraps are divided between the hens, the guinea pigs and our worm farm. Soft plastics are collected for re-cycling. We have a rain gauge that the children check and record rainfall, and the water in our hand pump is limited, so the children naturally come to understand the need to practice restraint when choosing water play.
Our kindergarten does not enrol children – it enrols families! Our program, our environment and our hearts are open wide to welcome all. We share celebrations and work with families to support them through tough times. Every day starts with our Morning Circle which includes all of the family. Including younger brothers and sisters sets up positive relationships for future enrolments. The little people are often reluctant to depart when the time comes, and parents often tell us that starting kindy is the biggest goal in their little one’s life!
We are blessed to be part of the St. John’s School Community. The physical environment, sights and sounds of school become familiar throughout the year. The children chat with the Preppies over the fence and hero-worship the school groundsmen. The school principal regularly visits us and reads to the children, and we in turn visit both the school library and Prep classrooms on a regular basis. This two-way relationship makes the transition from kindergarten to Prep a natural progression rather than a daunting challenge.