We all know how pivotal the first five years are, which means that choosing the right Early Learning Centre is one of the most important early education decisions you will make for your child. You need to consider where your child might be happiest, which style of care will suit your family, the overall environment, as well as the curriculum.
Our Director of Early Learning, Ms Pat Barbieri and Enrolments Manager, Mrs Sarah Becker are here to help you through every step of the way and ensure that your questions are answered. They have collaborated to answer the 10 most frequently asked questions from Early Learning parents. If you are considering enrolling your child in Early Learning, Childcare or Kindergarten, these 10 questions are sure to provide you with an understanding of our Early Learning program.
Is your Early Learning program play-based?
Yes! We are a play-based program and are firm believers that 3 and 4 year old children learn best through play. It can sometimes seem that our days are unstructured, however, our program follows a deliberate structure which ensures there are ebbs and flows across the day.
Our unique Kindergarten and Pre-Prep program, Project Enlighten, focuses on the significant period of growth young learners go through and aims to expand each child's experience and sense of self, while providing them with a breadth of learning opportunities that form their foundation for understanding.
Project Enlighten is inspired by the principles and practices of Reggio Emilia, where all children are considered as capable and resourceful. Every day, children in our Early Learning program are filled with excitement as they explore environments that are varied and engaging, with an emphasis on creativity and play-based learning.
What is the Reggio Emilia approach?
The Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education considers young children as curious individuals, who want to explore their world and have powerful potential to learn from everything they are surrounded by.
Children in our program are considered active participants in their learning and have control over the direction of their day. We ensure our curriculum is adaptive, allowing experiences to be driven by the interests of our children to ensure we emphasise exploration, expression and continued learning in a safe and comfortable environment.
How will you develop my child as an individual?
The objective of our Early Learning Centre is to develop a community of creative, curious and compassionate learners who are courageous and innovative thinkers.
Intentional teaching is embedded in our program which allows educators to gain insight as to where children’s understandings need to be strengthened and developed, whilst at the same time, ensuring that a solid foundation for knowledge is captured. Our early learning experiences promote social, emotional and academic growth and allow children to actively engage with each other and their teachers in purposeful and meaningful ways.
We understand that every child is unique which is why our educators work with families to develop personalised plans and goals specific to their needs. These individual plans play an integral role in how the teachers respond to your child and ensure that each and every experience is of benefit to their personal development, be that in a group or individual setting.
What Kindergarten and Pre-Prep programs do you offer and on which days of the week? What specialist classes do you offer?
We offer a range of programs to suit every child and every family.
Our Kindergarten program for 3-year-old children is available in a 2 day (Thurs & Fri), 3 day (Mon - Wed or Wed - Fri) and 5 day option.
Our Pre-Prep program for 4-year-old children is available in a 3 day (Mon - Wed), 4 day (Mon, Tues, Thurs, Fri) and 5 day option.
To complement our program, our Early Learning children are exposed to a diverse range of specialist subjects depending on the days they attend.
Our specialist classes include:
Monday: STEM-X, Science, Robotics, Construction and Technology. During these classes, children engage with various concepts from rainbows, robotics, life cycles and the human body. Our children are encouraged to become confident and involved learners throughout these sessions.
Tuesday: Creative Arts, Visual Art, Movement and Out and About. Classes involve a variety of experiences from painting to working with clay with a distinct focus on building a strong sense of identity within each child.
Wednesday: Performing Arts, Music, Drama and Dance. These classes allow children to express themselves. From using musical instruments to dancing, children are encouraged to communicate through different mediums to ensure effective communication.
Thursday: Language and Cultural Appreciation, Mandarin and Library. Children will be introduced to different cultures, languages and explore the world. Through activities and songs, children begin to learn Mandarin and explore how they are connected to and contribute to the world around them.
Friday: Physical Education, PMP, Mindfulness and Nutrition. Children engage with a wide variety of experiences which focus on health and wellbeing while promoting hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
Will my child start learning how to read and write?
Absolutely! Each day, our children are engaged through a plethora of play-based experiences coupled with intentional teaching of literacy and numeracy. Our 3-year-old Kindergarten program focuses on oral language skills and listening, which builds the foundation for our 4-year-old program. In the Pre-Prep classrooms, time is dedicated to sound and rhymes with a focus on phonetic development.
Throughout the day, all children in our early learning centre are exposed to various forms of print, media and technology. We encourage children to sign themselves into class each morning, we write letters and undertake explicit writing tasks and role modelling activities. We also provide all children with a variety of experiences that promote the development of their fine motor skills to ensure they can confidently begin to hold a pen and write.
How does your Early Learning program prepare my child for Prep?
When children start school we want them to thrive, flourish and enjoy the challenges they are being presented.Our Early Learning program ignites a passion for learning in every child and provides children with the building blocks for future academic growth.
Located adjacent to Toorak College’s Junior School, our children frequently access all of the school’s facilities and resources. Pre-Prep children have numerous interactions with our Prep classes and teachers throughout the year so when they start Prep, they are comfortable in their environment.
Prep can be emotionally, physically and mentally demanding. Your child will be used to their day having structure and routine which will give them a head start when they commence Prep. Our Early Learning program also helps develop each child’s social and emotional growth so they are ready to walk into a Prep classroom full of excitement and confidence.
What outdoor facilities does your Early Learning centre have?
There is no doubt in the minds of educators, parents, and researchers that outdoor play improves a child's physical development.
When children play outdoors, they increase their ability to balance, jump, climb, throw, run, and skip. For our youngest learners to thrive, it is important that outdoor play spaces feel open-ended and allow for active exploration and different types of play.
Our newly built playground features cubby houses designed as beach boxes, reflecting Toorak's involvement with the local community and our location by the beach. Wooden boardwalks traverse the courtyard and a slide takes you from the classroom to the playground! As well as this, our new outdoor spaces feature sandpits, vegetable patches, a bamboo forest, outdoor music elements, a lego wall, play equipment and a fairy garden so children have a range of diverse spaces for them to discover what interests them.
What is the age cut off for Kindergarten and Pre-Prep? What is the ratio of boys to girls in the Early Learning Centre?
To enrol in our Kindergarten program, your child must have turned 3 by February 1 of the year they commence. For our Pre-Prep children, they must have turned 4 by February 1 of the year they commence. Our Early Learning Centre is co-educational and we usually have a 60:40 girl:boy ratio.
What are your hours of operation and do you have before and after school care?
Our Kindergarten runs from 9:00am - 3:00pm and Pre-Prep from 8:45am - 2:45pm.
To support our families with siblings at Toorak College, we offer supervision in the Early Learning Centre until 3:30 pm. Before and after school care as well as school holiday care is available and is run through Camp Australia. For more information on before and after school care check out the Camp Australia website.
I am interested in finding out more. Can I take a tour? Do you have places available?
Great! There are many ways you can find out more: