NSM Review: Prepare Early Education Centre, St Ives

Sandpit and Water Play
Sandpit and Water Play

Looking for an amazing childcare centre on the upper North Shore, that genuinely cares for your precious child? Prepare Early Education Centre in St Ives operates out of a gorgeous indoor-outdoor space with a staff of nurturing, supportive carers. North Shore Mums Discoverer, Laura Loveridge, took a tour of this brand new childcare centre… 

Prepare Early Education Centre in St Ives opened its doors in January 2019, and from the moment it did families were entranced by its appealing indoor-outdoor setting. Outdoors, the centre offers a cleverly designed space brimming with natural light (so good for concentration and healthy development!) with plenty of activities for the kids and room to climb, run and play. Inside, the modern space is a playful and inviting place for your children to learn and grow.

The outdoor area has undercover areas and a gorgeous garden for kids to tend and help grow

The rooms at Prepare Early Education Centre

When I visited the centre with my three kids, we were greeted warmly by the area manager, who didn’t seem to mind at all that my kids were looking pretty disheveled after spending the morning at the playground (why do kids love the bark so much at playgrounds?!). The beautifully laid out space put my kids at ease, especially my son – he can sometimes be quite shy but while I was touring the centre he got stuck into playing in one of the rooms, so I knew from his point of view this place was already a hit.

The spacious centre consists of four rooms (three are interconnected) for children, divided into age groups:

  • The zero-to-two years room
  • The two-to-three years room
  • The three-to-four years room
  • The four-to-five years room

The rooms are planned with the children’s needs in mind, and each is calm and inviting, full of unique little areas encouraging creative and imaginative play from a kitchen to a train station. I personally never quite managed to maintain the ‘wooden toy only’ policy in my house (despite my best intentions), but this centre has beautifully crafted, natural material toys to play with (both inside and out) which is personally has huge appeal for to me. It has also managed to achieve that homely feel by having comfy sofas, big rugs and restful areas for the children to enjoy.

The kid-size kitchen is part of a set up that encourages imaginative play and role playing for kids

Like us, kids need a ‘chill out zone’ and the comfy, cushioned area is great for breaks or quiet play

Exploring the outside play area at Prepare Early Education Centre St Ives

Each of the rooms has glass paneling to let in natural light and take advantage of the weather. Each opens out to create a pathway to a spacious shared garden where kids can experiment with water play, dig in the sandpit, flop on to big cushions, draw on a giant blackboard and even play on a castle fort! The shared space is used by the different groups in turn (except for the 0-two group, who have their own space), plus there are structured play sessions where groups interact with each other and build their social skills.

The glass sliding doors allow the space to transform into an indoor-outdoor area for play

Kids will spend hours in a world of imaginative play on the castle fort and climbing frames

The garden is an interactive space with play equipment and native plants side-by-side

Kids can explore different textures and experiment with natural materials in the sandpit

The blackboard is the perfect outlet for those artistic and creative spirits and writers

The room for the zero-to-two group is equipped with baby-friendly toys and equipment

There’s a private play space for the youngest kids, including their own garden and shaded space

What’s on the menu at Prepare?

For busy parents dropping kids at daycare, a fresh, healthy (and kid-approved) menu is a must! At Prepare EEC, the food is all made freshly on site by the centre chef, with five meals offered daily across a 4-week rotating menu. Outside of the set menus, the centre is flexible and are able to adapt dishes to suit the children’s tastes and dietary requirements. In fact, the afternoon tea came out during our visit and it looked delicious! My son was invited to join the meal and he gave the dish his tick of approval.

Sample meals:

  • Raisin toast
  • Butter chicken with cous cous
  • Fruit and vegetable platters
  • Cheese and ham muffins

What are the hours? Prepare EEC Long Day Care and Preschool

Prepare offers long day care hours from 7am-6pm, as well as a school hours session from 9am to 3pm (rates depend on the age of the child). They have created a unique “Prepare Program” which draws upon the national best practice and research, and are currently looking into extra curricular activities for the children such as French lessons. They aim to involve the parents as much as possible in the planning for the centre, including what extra activities they would like to see, and guide the day to day play based activities upon the children’s current interests. The 0-2 room is baby led and guided by whatever routine your baby has at that time.

Families are kept up to date through secure access to a mobile app, where a lot of daily communication takes place in written and photographic form. How much is shared and who sees the information is entirely up to you and I was reassured it is a secure program.

What’s the verdict?

The Prepare space is beautiful and the staff have a lovey, nurturing approach with the warmth of a family. When we visited, there were several children there and the area manager knew them all by name. They all looked very happy and content and well cared for and were clearly having a great time.

A new entrance road has just been completed with new fencing also on track to be finished shortly. There’s even underground parking with a lift so safe access is not an issue.

It’s a lovely new childcare centre for the Upper North Shore! If you’re looking for childcare around St Ives, give them a call and book a tour. I’m sure you’ll be just as impressed as I was!

Essential Details: Prepare Early Education Centre

  • Address: 36 Killeaton Street, St Ives, 2075
  • Phone: (02) 9975 1617
  • Email: stives@prepare.nsw.edu.au
  • Fees: $125 – $150 per day (depending on age of child and session times)
  • Hours: Long day care hours from 7am-6pm, school hours from 9am to 3pm
  • Website: Prepare EEC

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