Having visited Prepare Early Childhood centre in St Ives earlier this year, I was delighted to hear that they were setting up a playgroup. Prepare is a wonderful centre with such enthusiastic and welcoming staff. As I am not in a situation where I need long day care facilities, being able to access the centre and have my children reap the benefits of the nurturing educated staff there filled me with great excitement. I took my youngest two kids along to check it out!
About Prepare Early Childhood
From the moment you arrive at Prepare, you are met with such a warmth from the staff that you immediately feel part of the family there. The centre is clean, bright and spacious yet still has a homely feel to it. The centre has four rooms divided by age group and the playgroup takes part in the 0-2 years room whilst the regular children from this room share morning tea and social activities with the older children in the other classrooms. The centre has stepped away from the use of traditional plastic toys and has instead filled each room with interesting and creative natural material toys that challenge the children in equal ways whilst being more environmentally friendly. There is also an enclosed and extremely enticing outside area which offers shade for those summer days.
A Warm Welcome
After introductions and some free play, children and carers are invited to circle time to welcome each other with creative songs. This is led by the staff whom welcome each child by name with the use of puppets and song. Of course, my one year old was more interested in all the surrounding toys and navigating the indoor climbing structures, but the staff made sure she was welcomed too. There is of course no pressure for children to sit and join in this circle time but my two-year-old loved it and joined in with “Five Little Ducks” and “The Jellyfish Song” which were playfully narrated by the staff using felt characters, including the children along the way.
Following music time, children are welcome to explore both the inside and outside areas during which the staff gently invite them to take part in all the activities on offer. My children both planted cress seeds; made pasta maracas; discovered the paints; played with the playdough; and still managed to find time to dig in the sandpit, slide down the slippery dip and enjoy the pretend play house!
We have visited the playgroup on a few occasions where the staff alternate between parachute games and story time depending on how the children are feeling. The educated staff are all so attentive yet know when to give children space to explore their natural surroundings and whilst this playgroup is aimed at children 0-2 years old, older children have attended and appeared to have enjoyed it just as much as the young ones.
With all the fun activities and different adventures undertaken, morning tea is received with great delight and enthusiasm. Now, I don’t know about you but just having someone else make my children’s morning tea is in itself a huge treat but knowing it was lovingly homemade by the onsite chef is even better! Consisting of a fresh fruit platter and a variety of freshly baked muffins there is something for everyone. They even cater for allergies with advanced notice and are already a nut free centre.
Depending on the weather, the children (and carers!) are invited to eat inside or outside with low setting tables for the kids that even the young children feel part of the moment. Whilst they have highchairs available, my one-year old loved sitting on the little chairs next to her big sister! And if you haven’t already, this is such a nice time to have a chat with some of the other mums; share tips and stories; compare who had the least sleep the night before; or just generally have a grown-up conversation. They can exist during these full-on parenting days!
It’s hard to believe that they fit all of this creative fun and stimulation in to an hour, but they do! What they are offering for a playgroup is incredible, and it’s unbelievable that it is completely free! Not to mention that it is run by early childhood educators who really have the growth and developmental needs of our children at heart. Attending a playgroup weekly is so beneficial for both children and carers that if you can, pop along to this one and see how good it is for yourself!
Prepare is just around the corner from the St Ives Village Shops so after all that stimulation, your little one is sure to take a nap that you might even get a peaceful coffee or lunch with friends whilst they snooze away in the pram… we can but dream!
- When: Every Friday from 9.45am. Term 4 starts Friday 18 October
- Address: 36 Killeaton Street, St Ives
- Phone: (02) 9975 1617
- Parking: Plenty of onsite underground secure parking
- Email: [email protected]
- Website: Prepare EEC