Forest Childcare - Learning inside and out
The sound of happy children playing is the first thing you notice when you arrive at Forest Childcare in Frenchs Forest on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. The centre for babies through to pre-school children is a spacious, vibrant, yet very private, haven tucked away from traffic and noise at the far end of a Rodborough Road business park. And right at the heart of it is an enormous play area filled with young children climbing, digging in the sandpit, enjoying a swing, or chasing a ball with their teachers, all shrieking with delight as they relish the romp outside. Others explore the chicken coop looking for eggs, or check out the worm farm where their recycled scraps go, while more are picking fruit from the lemon tree, or monitoring the veggies in their veggie patch to see if any are ready for Nui, the centre’s much loved chef. One big family Continue up the stairs of the two-storey complex to the large, open and friendly reception area and enjoy the parade of children as they march back upstairs from play. That’s when another comforting thought strikes you - the warmth and love for Kay is evident as the children pass by her open office waving and smiling, clearly delighted by her huge smile and warm acknowledgement. It’s obvious this hands-on woman with more than 45 years as a children’s educator loves her Forest children. Hers is a centre where each child counts as an individual, whether they come for just one day every week, or every day of every week. Kay is not some faceless administrator locked away in her office, working behind the scenes, she’s a vital and active member of her team that prides itself in providing innovative programs for each age group. The Tadpole room, for babies aged from six weeks to 18 months, is the room where many children start their years at Forest Childcare, some of them continuing right through to transition to big school. They move on up to the Bilbies, from 18 months to three years, to the Kookaburras from three to four years and finally to the Platypus Room, for ages four to six, and where the children prepare for kindergarten. We are not babysitters Forest Childcare radiates a warm, friendly atmosphere. Where Kay and each of her team know their children, their names and their personalities. They recognise the cheeky ones, the quiet ones, the shy ones and the boisterous ones. No child flies under the radar, nor goes unnoticed. At Forest Childcare flexibility with the parents is also encouraged, with a father passing through dropping in to take his son out to lunch, or a mother, working nearby, stopping by to breast feed her baby. “We want parents to regard our centre as an extension of their home,” Kay says. Kay’s handpicked team of educators keeps her up-to-date with each child’s milestones and any particular challenges they may have with socialising or learning. All this information about each child’s achievements and developments are passed on to their parents on a daily basis. Kay is very much involved in developing her team and working closely with them to help each child progress and be the best they can before they start school. It’s clear the children and their individual development are a priority at Forest Childcare and their love and adoration of Kay is a reflection of her dedication and commitment. “We are not babysitters, we’re educators” says Kay. “I am fully involved and set the standards for my staff to perform,” Kay said. “I provide in-service training, and our team meets monthly to discuss strategies and programs for each room.” The spacious, light-filled classrooms are brightly decorated, stimulating learning areas crammed with age appropriate toys, books and other educational aids. Children’s craft, paintings and drawings hang on the walls or from the ceilings, adding colour and festive fun. The themes of the rooms are changed at whim to cater for ideas often triggered by the children themselves. It might be an exciting adventure to share after the school holidays that will see their room transformed to a beach, a jungle, or a zoo. Their teachers encourage this input from the children and love to help them explore their ideas. Taking it step-by-step to school As an early childhood educator and former high school teacher, Kay looks forward to filling in as a relief teacher at the centre. “I love being with the children back in the classroom,’’ she says. “Being an early childhood educator is all I’ve wanted to do.” With an average of 90 children attending Forest Childcare every day there is a wonderful social atmosphere reverberating around the centre. On entry, each child is introduced into their respective age group and eased into the routine with their development and progress carefully monitored and recorded, both inside and out of the classroom. ``Children develop differently and at different paces, and we make sure we monitor everything, particularly all the firsts. From baby’s first step, to cutting with scissors, catching a ball, or learning the alphabet,” Kay says. “We accommodate their individual needs.“ Forest Childcare at 5/10 Rodborough Road, Frenchs Forest, cares for your children in a fun, learning environment. From the babies through to preparing your six-year-old for life at school, Forest Childcare offers experienced and nurturing teachers dedicated to bringing the best out in your child.