Letting kids get down and dirty, and be kids!
AT NEW Harwood childcare centre Walla Walla Bing Bang, it's okay for the kids to get wet.
Or get your hands in the dirt.
It's all part of the philosophy that owner Melissa Williams said was key in the centre being named one of the Clarence's favourite after only one year of operation.
Who is the Clarence Valley's favourite childcare centre?
This poll ended on 07 December 2020.
New School Of Arts Early Learning Centre – South Grafton
Cubby House For Kids – Townsend
Willy Wagtails Kindergarten – Yamba
Walla Walla Bing Bang Early Learning Centre – Harwood
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
"What we do is offer real life experiences, whether that be through the vegie gardens and the chickens, or more high-risk climbing equipment - we get the children to learn a lot of self help," Ms Williams said.
"We want to teach them resilience, make them understand how to accept things - we want them to experience things like in the real world. It's not sanitised or dumbed down.
Opening on January 13 this year, the centre is open 52 weeks a year, closed only on weekends and public holidays, and operates from 6.30am-6pm.
"We do long day care … from six weeks old to school age, and before and after school care for Chatsworth Island and Harwood schools, and also vacation care during the school holidays for primary aged children," Ms Williams said.
With COVID hitting just two months after they began operations, Ms Williams said it was a bit unknown for a few weeks, but once it settled down they returned to positive enrolments.
"We've been fully booked since May," she said.
"We get people from Yamba, Maclean, Iluka and the immediate area, and even have a family that come from Grafton."
Ms Williams and her husband previously owned the also cheekily-named Free Range Kids early learning centres in the southeast of Queensland, and sold them six years ago to take up semi-retirement in the Clarence.
However, spotting a need for childcare on the northern side of the Harwood bridge, they found what Ms Williams described as an ideal property in Harwood, and opened the doors.
"We like to give back to the community we live in, because there was a high demand, and we know with kids ourselves that are adults finding childcare can be a big hindrance for people getting back to work," she said.
"We said the void on the northern side, and the access from the highway at Harwood was easy, so it's easy people travelling to and from work to get to, and we've had a great response."
Ms Williams said the environment of the centre was set up to allow children to explore and develop whatever they desired, whether it was water jets in the hot summer months, to playing in the dirt and other areas for role plays.
"The physical aspect as well as the skill of our staff contribute to the kids," she said. "We do things like yoga, dancing every morning. The children have got opportunities no matter what their interests and likes are.
"We get joy out of the children learning and developing and getting ready for school and life."