By Kerrie Subritzky
In my day, childcare centres were few and far between. In fact, it was mostly just kindies and play-centres. Those were the days where kids pretty much just played. They played make-believe, dress ups, chasey, go-home-stay-home, climbed trees, and fell over and got dirty, and scuffed knees. Oh, and there was usually an old tractor carcass for the littlies to pretend to drive on. Mum would pick us up at lunchtime, and off we’d go home for a sleep. Unless you were a big kid, then you were an afternooner.
That rough and tumble childhood grew some fairly capable adults. It’s a time I still have fond memories of, and when my own kids came along was the kind of place I looked for. ‘Old-school’ we call it now – that generic term we moderns use to describe anything from the ‘olden days’.
Nowadays education has changed. And a lot of it is for the better, but a kind of ‘sanitising’ has crept into the mix. It’s got so that everything has to be ‘safe,’ to the point really that kids don’t really get to explore their boundaries, and challenge their limits like they used to decades ago. They don’t really get close enough to the edge to know where the edge really is.
Childcare has become big business. It is now an entrenched part of society, with children in some form of day-care whether parents work or not. In the old days there would have been two or three in a suburb, whereas now It seems that there is a childcare facility in virtually every street. Which is just as true in the Blockhouse Bay area as anywhere else in Auckland.
You could be forgiven for thinking that the little childcare centre on Boundary Road near the gates of Lynfield College was just for children of teachers and adult students at Lynfield College – especially since it has “Lynfield College” in its name. Having passed it at least a thousand times, that’s exactly what I thought – wrongly as it turns out. And with quite an unassuming exterior as well, many of us would pass on by without another thought.
The Lynfield College Community Childcare Centre approached me to place and design an ad. As I did my research and chatted to Denise, the centre supervisor, I began to realise that what they have here is something out of the ordinary, and a bit special. In a time where there are more brand new, slick, up-to-the-minute day-care centres than you can shake a stick at, this one, for all its humble exterior, stands out. In fact, it makes me want to have grandchildren.
Here is a little childcare centre where the word “little” belies impact. Licensed for just 30 children, the child to teacher ratio is unusually high; 5 children to every teacher, most of whom have been there a decade or more, resulting in the stable family atmosphere that children thrive in.
With a strong philosophy that children learn through doing, bare feet, roly-poly down hills, splashing in puddles, and getting messy and dirty are all part of the norm. Technology is downplayed to ‘a useful tool’ that sometimes supports their outdoor discoveries. Shock horror! Surely not? Nope, instead of ‘screen time’ children have hands-on experiences with a grassy hill, ‘safe fall’, concrete, sandpit, bark and a nature area. And they turn out just fine. Better than fine, in fact, with their ex-pupils names regularly emblazoned on school noticeboards around town. Denise is very chuffed about that.
Being a ‘not-for-profit’, with funds raised the hard way and going back into the running of the centre, advertising is a bit of a stretch. And they could do with a better sign (any businesses out there keen to sponsor one contact Denise). But I was inspired by a story that needed to be told. Check out their below for details, but you’d better be quick as I have a feeling places won’t be available for long.