The early years are a foundational time in a young person’s life where incredible learning and development occurs, shaping the child into who they will become.
Research into early brain development reveals that children must have strong relationships with responsive, sensitive caregivers in the early years of life for the architecture of the brain to develop to its full potential.
Early education and care is the cornerstone to building not only a well-rounded and resourceful individual, but a successful society. As such, there are important factors to consider when contemplating choice of early learning and childcare services.
“A quality service will feel warm, welcoming and will focus on building relationships with each family from the beginning,” Sharon Jobbins, from Ripples Early Learning Centre, said.
“Every family and child, regardless of culture, abilities or family structure should feel welcomed and valued from the very first phone call.
“We would advise families to take their time when they visit prospective services, ask lots of questions and don’t be afraid to address any concerns they may have.”
All services are required to meet all aspects of the National Quality Standard and go through a rigorous assessment and rating process to achieve one of five ratings.
Ripples Early Learning Centre has recently been deemed by the NSW Department of Education as ‘Exceeding the National Quality Standards’, which is the highest level achievable.
A dedicated team of 38 educators who hold either a Bachelor of Teaching in Early Childhood, Diploma in Children’s Services or Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care work hard to develop a unique inclusive community partnership program that aims to reduce or remove barriers for children with diverse strengths, needs and abilities.
According to Ripples’ educational leader Melanie Gebbard, apart from feeling right and ticking the boxes for assessment and rating, a quality early learning service should have a comprehensive play-based educational program that is available to families and aligns with the Australian national early childhood framework, the ‘Early Years Learning Framework’.
“Children’s learning and development should be continually assessed, documented and shared with families on a regular basis,” Melanie said. “The service should have clear policies regarding every aspect of the service available and should invite families to be a part of decision-making and policy development.”
The Ripples philosophy begins with acknowledging the right of every child to quality education and care, regardless of ability, culture or need.
Children, families and the team make up the learning community, with the belief that each stakeholder should be valued and welcomed.
“We believe that a naturalistic play-based educational program, along with embedded sustainable practices, is the foundation of building a community of global citizens,” Sharon said.
“We acknowledge our important role in developing children’s understanding of culture and the environment and encourage children to think critically about the world around them as they engage with their educators, peers and the environment each day. We have higher than regulated ratios for the children with extra staff in the rooms to assist with the implementation and delivery of a dynamic and innovative program.
“Children’s voices are valued and form an integral part of our planning process.”
Ripples operates across two sites, at Warabrook and Warners Bay. Both are in semi-industrial estates that back directly on to bushland reserves. This allows for a natural backdrop for our outdoor play spaces.
At Warabrook each classroom is designed to have independent free flowing indoor/outdoor play with individual covered outdoor classrooms attached to each room.
“Our indoor play spaces incorporate a variety of learning centres where children can access materials and experiences that cater for children of varying ability and age,” Sharon said.
Ripples has an onsite café at Warabrook that serves as a community hub where families and the wider community can take time out for a coffee and a bite to eat.
All enrolled children have access to purpose built dedicated art studios with Ripples’ very own Atelieristi.
“Here children explore independently using a range of mediums under the guidance of our university-trained teacher/graphic designer,” Sharon said.
The Warabrook site is located at 23 Rosegum Road, Warabrook and caters fro children aged 6 weeks to 5 years, with some vacancies still available.
The Warners Bay site is located at Unit 5/311 Hillsborough Road, Warners Bay. For more information ring 02 40443135 (Warabrook) or 02 49568 568 (Warners Bay).