Learning through play at Forest Childcare
The children running around and playing outside at Forest Childcare have no idea they’re actually learning and developing their skills. They just think they’re having a good time. But that’s just how the team at Forest Childcare in Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest likes it. They want all their children, from the babies to the six-year-olds, to develop and learn in a fun, friendly environment using a combination of practical methods and imagination to teach everything from sitting up and sharing, to their ABCs and numbers. And much of that is done outside the classroom. For centre Director, Kay Doyle, the sandpit, for example, is all about mathematics. “Think about it,’’ she says. “How many buckets of sand do you need to build a castle? And how many spades full of sand do you need to fill each bucket. They have no idea they’re learning maths, but we do.”
Learning on the inside
The 90 or so children attending Forest Childcare every day range in age from six weeks to six years. There are the Tadpoles, from babies to toddlers at 18 months; the Bilbies, from 18 months to three years; the Kookaburras from three to four years; and the final group in the Platypus Room, children aged from four to six on their way to “big” school. Inside the centre, the classrooms and halls are brightly decorated with colourful drawings, paintings and craft reflecting the work completed by the children. Each room is a visual feast highlighting the different themes and activities often inspired by the children themselves. Planets, animals, sea creatures or family pictures hanging from the ceiling or adorning the walls are a hint to what the children are learning about that week. Scattered among them are brilliant educational posters, including number and ABC charts, First-Aid, Spider and Road Safety banners, all gentle reminders for children to absorb as they pass. Each classroom buzzes with creativity and learning, as simple ideas transform their individual rooms into wonderful worlds encouraging interaction and participation.
Now step outside
Step outside the classroom and into the huge, outdoor play area and the colour and stimulation continues. Playtime is carefully rostered so each age group can run around freely and participate safely within their developmental stage. “Yes, we don’t want the older children trampling the babies,’’ Kay laughs. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, PE specialist Andrew arrives to kick a ball, jump, skip and balance on one leg with the children. While the children laugh and shriek, Andrew is carefully developing and monitoring their gross motor skills. Creative dance classes on Friday are also a fun exercise in coordination and movement. For Kay and her team of educators at Forest Childcare, play and socialization is every bit as important as the progress made in the classrooms. And just as every milestone accomplished in the classroom is recorded daily for parents, so is every kick of the ball and climbing triumph monitored. “We ensure that every child participates in some way, even the shy ones who can fly under the radar in a room full of children.
It may be a child’s first courageous slide down the slippery dip, or finally reaching the top of the climbing frame. It may be the first time toes are wiggled in the sand, or a foot connects with a ball. The team at Forest Childcare understands that every day is a new day of discovery and learning for young children and one to be shared with their parents. From inside the classroom to outdoors in play, the children at Forest Childcare at 5/10 Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest, are happy learning and making friends in a fun-filled environment.