Care tailored to meet the needs of each child is vital to working families.
“If you want something done well, do it yourself.” It’s a variously attributed quote that two busy, working parents took to heart in 1995 when it came to childcare for their own children.
Places were hard to come by and there were problems with safety, cleanliness, the curriculum and being heard.
So, Dale and Julie Pearce decided to do it themselves and created Platypus Junction childcare centre in Brighton to provide a complete and hassle-free service to families.
In response to Melbourne’s changing demographics, new centres opened and Platypus can now be found where young, working families need childcare most – in Croydon and Mulgrave, with a new centre under construction in Langwarrin.
The Pearce’s daughter, Felicity Hall, has grown up in the early childhood education business, furthering her studies through a diploma of business and a bachelor of communication and is now group business director at Platypus Junction.
“Our focus is on individuality. Every child and family is different, so it is about treating children as people, not as a single group,” Hall says. “You’re not herding sheep; you’re talking about looking at the person, the child, and tailoring the care experience to them and the needs of their family.
“It’s what sets us apart and I think being a private operator, we’re able to do that. We’re not a cookie-cutter business and we don’t set and forget when it comes to our philosophy and curriculum.”
Early childhood education and care are also about the people who work in it. For Hall, this is key: “We have a specific senior management team that oversees and guides our curriculum and program to build on the National Quality Framework.
“We put a lot of extra resources behind that team to ensure that our educators are up to speed with the latest educational philosophies for children that will engage and stimulate their learning and development.”
Programs begin with three-month-olds, with a staged and expanding curriculum up to pre-school kindergarten ages.
“For children closer to school age there is a focus on school readiness,” Hall says. “Our school readiness program linked with our fantastic adventure gardens at both of our locations ensures a balanced experience with active play outside. If a child is active and energetic they need the freedom to explore without a structured program and engage in what they feel like.”
Contact with families is the cornerstone of the Platypus Junction philosophy and begins with orientation sessions in which parents can become familiar with the company’s purpose-built, state-of-the-art centres, facilities, and staff. Regular, sometimes daily, contact takes place between parents and educators so as to best meet the needs of each child.
“We work with each family to deliver a genuine early learning experience for the children and that diversity helps us shape and tailor the experiences we deliver across our program,” Hall says.
Children can attend from 6.30am to 6.30pm and the all-inclusive fee means that everything they need will be provided – from nappies and bottles to all-day meals and healthy snacks, including breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and supper. There are no additional fees for in-house events or excursions older children can take part in.
All food is prepared daily onsite by a qualified cook to a rotating, seasonal and culturally diverse menu authorised by a childhood nutritionist. Children can collect herbs or tomatoes from Platypus veggie patches, deliver them to the cook and eat them, and fresh fruit and vegetables, along with freshly baked, healthy snacks are served every day.
Source: The Sunday Age