St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre

Written by: Meghan Peters | September 27, 2018

Established in 2012, St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre Rasmussen provides local families with high quality care and education to the youngest members of our community. An initiative of the Catholic Diocese and supported by Townsville Catholic Education, St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre aims to enrich children’s learning from babies through to the Kindergarten year. 

The centre provides a warm and caring environment that values and respects the unique characteristics and capabilities of each child. Welcoming all children as unique individuals, we promote a mutually beneficial partnership with families and the wider community, integrating culturally diverse backgrounds, beliefs and attitudes.

Under the Early Years Learning Framework, our educators develop quality education programs for all ages. Within the program curriculum, children are provided with a variety of possibilities to experience:

• Learning that is fun
• Secure respectful relationships
• Resilience and positive wellbeing
• Opportunities for success
• Appreciation of their own identity

Children enrolled at the centre in the year prior to Prep follow a Queensland Government Approved Kindergarten program led by a qualified early childhood teacher, using the Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline to develop the program and monitor children’s learning during the year.

Catholic Kindergarten – A Holistic Approach to Child Development 

St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre’s kindergarten teacher, Chris Reiterer, made the leap from school teaching and leadership roles to the childcare sector after recognising a developing gap in the skills and knowledge required for children to successfully participate in the school curriculum.  

“One of the best career decisions I made was joining Catholic Kindergartens as a kindergarten teacher. Catholic Kindergartens has given me the opportunity to develop a holistic program at St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre Rasmussen and to establish a brand-new kindergarten program at St Michael’s School on Palm Island. Taking a genuinely holistic approach to teaching – developing every child’s emotional, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing – sets the foundation for the learning they require to participate confidently in their first year at school,” says Chris. 

A Personalised Approach

To further enhance their learning and development, Chris insists on a personalised approach to teaching his kindergarten class, “When you’re four, everything is worth learning, especially if it’s about you. Language is at the centre of identity and language choices can define relationships and help you to get what you want and need, so I employ a wide range of explicit and implicit strategies in structured and unstructured play to help the children develop essential skills.

“Our names provide relevance as we develop phonemic awareness and our birthdays have more meaning when we learn we must wait for the earth to go ‘all the way around the Sun again’ before we can have another one. When we say ‘hello’ in a dozen different languages and talk about the origins, and when we acknowledge the Wulgurukaba and Bindal people who lived on this land (for a long time before our Kindy and our houses and the shops and the roads were here), we can start to understand a little bit more about our world and develop a sense of place.

“Authentic learning becomes visible when the children begin to independently resolve conflict, display empathy towards peers, accept natural consequences of their choices and persist at tasks to the limits of their ability. These are just some attributes of effective learners that we strive to develop, and they are prominent in the current Queensland Kindergarten Learning Guideline and its revision for 2019.” 

Creating a sense of belonging 

Under the Catholic Education’s Inclusion Support program, St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre ensures that Kindergarten can meet the needs of every child with high quality education and care. A significant part of this includes building relationships with parents and families and sharing experiences and progress throughout the year.

“Belonging is a fundamental human need and building children’s trust and developing their sense of security is deeply personal, emotional and complex work. I am privileged to be assisted by Maureen Cahill, one of the most knowledgeable and professional early childhood educators in childcare, to create an environment where the children feel it is ‘their Kindergarten’ – a safe place to take risks and try something new when they play, to make their own decisions and to take control of their learning.”

 

“The kindergarten programme that my children participated in has given them the necessary skills to enter the schooling system as confident,
independent learners.”
– 
Jody Ross

 

“We are fortunate to have the latest ICTs, a robotics program, Sheldon the River Turtle, a flexible outdoor learning environment and some pretty cool toys but relationships are the core of the Kindergarten program,” says Chris. “The opportunity to develop relationships with families through daily contact, information nights and formal parent/teacher meetings throughout the Kindergarten year are fantastic opportunities to collaborate with parents and share observations of their
child’s development.”

The St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre difference ñ A parent perspective Feedback from parents indicates children are thriving and have found a new level of learning in attending the service. 

All three of Jody Ross’ children have attended St Mary MacKillop Early Learning Centre and she is overjoyed with the love, care and detailed early learning that has seen her children develop and flourish in their schooling years. 

Jody said, “Being a Year 1 teacher myself, I know how important the early years are to help our little people adjust to and absorb the big wide world. The kindergarten programme that my children participated in has given them the necessary skills to enter the schooling system as confident, independent learners. They also bring with them values and virtues to be kind and considerate to people and show tolerance for others.
The staff at the centre have been our village. They’ve helped raise and nurture these amazing kids (and not just our own three) by treating them as their own little family when we are not able to. Nothing has ever been too much, and I can 100% say that when I walk out of there after dropping Ryder off I am confident that he will receive the best care from each and every staff member. We will be very sad saying goodbye at the end of the year when Ryder finishes kindy.”

 

www.earlylearning.tsv.catholic.edu.au

Success North Queensland | Connecting Cairns and Townsville