Yoga, personal trainers and French and Mandarin classes are just some of the classes being offered at WA’s new-look childcare centres.
Others are taking children on excursions to local libraries, theatre groups or cafes so they learn how to behave in real-world settings.
There’s also a big shift towards focusing on sustainability, the environment and “not wrapping children in cotton wool”, with less plastic and metal and more natural play areas and vegetable gardens the aim.
Edith Cowan University Centre for Research in Early Childhood director Caroline Barratt-Pugh said childcare providers were focusing more on developing children’s resilience and promoting diversity.
“We know some centres are doing very interesting things, like yoga, to promote relaxation, physical fun and resilience,” Dr Barratt-Pugh said.
“We’ve also seen music specialists brought in to develop creative movement, listening skills and a love of music as well as social skills like collaboration.”
Dr Barratt-Pugh said not all parents could afford specialist programs and argued centres needed to ensure the fundamentals were still part of the early childhood curriculum.
Experts have noted big childcare changes in the past five years, following the introduction of national regulations, the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards.
Dawson Ruhl, chief executive of early childhood education support agency Child Australia, said the regulations had led to an increase in qualifications across the sector and a focus on “play-based” learning. There was also less emphasis on getting children to meet ability checklists and more on letting them develop at their own pace.
Milligan House Child Care Centre director Samantha Peacock said her Bunbury non-profit community centre offered activities such as yoga and personal training to all children. After the first year, she noticed the children were much stronger, more coordinated and some needed less asthma medication, while watching their self-confidence blossom.
“Self-confidence is so important,” she said. “If they know all the colours and can count to 10 when they reach primary, that’s a bonus.”
MercyCare Early Learning Centre manager Vicky Murray said her Wembley centre was still play-focused, but put an emphasis on teaching and extra-curricular activities, like its French and Mandarin lessons for children aged one and older.
-reprinted from The Daily Telegraph