Little Steps Big Steps is our own proprietary leaning program.
It’s based on the national curriculum mandated by the Federal Government in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF). It offers a more thorough coverage of certain parts of the EYLF to ensure all of our children are as prepared for school as they possibly can be.
We work hard with the local primary schools in the areas in which we operate to make certain that what the schools want in terms of preparedness for school is a major focus for us. We have a very solid relationship with the Macquarie University, you’ll often see Students on practicum rotating through our centres, this helps us stay as current as possible in our thinking and methods.
As part of the care and education program the centre uses Child Portfolios to document evidence of each child’s learning and development.
Child Portfolios are a collection of observations, evidence of children’s work/achievements and anecdotes of your child’s experiences while in care.
Child Portfolios become a story of your child’s life at Sandcastles, showing skills developed over time, telling stories of play situations and highlighting interactions and friendships being made, a record of your child’s interests, likes, dislikes and other events or activities while in care.
These portfolios are used to plan experiences and make appropriate provisions to meet and extend upon the individual needs and interests of your child.
Child Portfolios are available to parents at all times. Parents are encouraged to view, discuss, comment on or add to the portfolio at any time in consultation with your child’s Room Leader. Child Portfolios are private and confidential and are available only to appropriate centre staff and parents.
Staff facilitate children’s learning by responding to the children’s individual and group interests and needs, and provide planned and spontaneous developmentally and culturally appropriate activities and experiences.
Learning programs provide opportunities for:
- Indoor and outdoor free play activities
- One-to-one interactions
- Small group times for stories, drama, art/craft and other activities
- Spontaneous learning experiences
- Transition times between activities
- Brainstorming, projects and extended investigations
We believe play is essential to young children’s learning and development.
We endeavour to meet the needs of children’s natural curiosity by providing a range of opportunities for them to experiment, discover, solve problems and to find out about themselves, other people and the world around them.
We provide open-ended activities and experiences that support growth and development and help children develop competencies and build solid foundations for later learning.
We provide a program that promotes diversity for children and families from various social, linguistic and cultural backgrounds.
The learning program always includes the following play areas:
- Music and movement
- Construction/manipulative play
- Puzzles and cognitive games
- Language and literacy
- Drawing and writing materials<
- Art and craft
- Dramatic play
- Sensory play such as sand and water play
Projects and extended investigations
Projects and extended investigations are conducted by children and staff from ideas that interest them. Extended investigations and projects are developed from children’s interests, chance events or a problem, and can be initiated by one or more children or by teachers.
Projects help children thoroughly explore ideas, make discoveries, construct knowledge and solve problems, which leads to learning and understanding
A Bachelor-Qualified Teacher leads our teams of educators to deliver our specialised School Readiness programme to prepare your child for formal study in the future.
In order to provide you and your child with a smooth transition to school, we provide our specialised School Readiness programme. The programme aims to assist in developing confidence, social skills and ability to learn, as well as independence which, in turn, helps make adjusting to school life a little easier.
Detailed and specific education programmes are developed by our qualified team of educators who work with care to ensure they are relevant to the individual child’s interests, family, culture, and local community. The programme encourages social, emotional, linguistic, and cognitive understanding and expression. Such growth focuses on language, literacy, the visual arts and crafts, as well as music along with song and dance. In anticipation of oncoming formal schooling, mathematics, science, the social studies are also taught and skills in writing and reading are explored through games and play.
Sandcastles is committed to healthy eating, we appreciate that when your children are with us they’ll be supplied with 70% of their food for the day.
As such we offered a varied seasonal menu and all centre’s have an in-house chef.
Our centres have a ‘no junk food’ policy. We focus on healthy food options. We provide a separate infant menu and cater for all known allergies.
We strictly follow the Weekly Nutritional Requirements for a Long Day (Based on Nutrition Department of the Central Coast Health Services in NSW) – 2 Red meat, 1 Chicken, 1 Fish, 1 Vegetarian (per week), 1 fruit, 3 Dairy and 2 serves of Bread (per day).
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Common Questions Around Nutrition:
Meals are provided in an unhurried and relaxed atmosphere where children engage in conversation with carers and peers. Carer’s role model acceptable social behaviour through participation at mealtimes.
Staff members interact with the children, encouraging good eating habits, the appreciation of different food tastes and the correct use of eating and serving utensils.
Information relating to each child’s daily eating habits will be made available to parents.
Weekly menus are displayed for parents to help you plan your child’s meals at home.
The centre provides breakfast/morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea.
Allergies and Intolerances
All allergies and intolerances are considered when ordering meals. If your child has an allergy or intolerance on enrolment the Centre Manager will meet with you to discuss this. If your child develops an allergy or intolerance during his/her time in care please see the Centre Manager.
We will endeavour to accommodate your child’s specific needs within the centre and ensure appropriate documentation is completed as per our Allergies and Anaphylaxis policies and procedures. In some cases where allergies or intolerances cannot be catered for, parents will be asked to provide supplementary food at their expense.
Bottles and formula for infants
The centre provides bottles and the following types of formula and milk:
S26, S26 Progress, S26 Progress gold, Infasoy, cow’s milk and soy milk.
Parents of children on milk or formula not included in the list above are asked to provide this for their child.
N.B. formula brands and types may change over time.
What does childcare at Sandcastles involve?
Childcare involves not only ‘caring’ for your children but also supporting their learning and facilitating the development of knowledge and skills.
Throughout their time at our centre, children are provided with developmentally appropriate learning experiences to support their growth and development.
From babies to preschoolers, children’s needs are met through staff providing appropriate learning experiences based on individual and group needs and interests.
What is my role as a parent at the centre?
We recognise parents as the primary carers and educators of their children. Our carers encourage parents to spend time within the centre as this helps build open and honest communication channels, thereby ensuring each child’s needs are met on a daily basis.
We aim to work in partnership with families to achieve continuity of care for children which is essential in the provision of high quality childcare.
Interactions and communication between children, staff and families are characterised by warmth, responsiveness, positive support and respect for each other.
We value children as competent and capable learners, collaborators and decision makers who are actively involved in the learning process.
Our centre has an ‘open-door policy’. Parents are welcome to call us at anytime or visit their child during the day.
Parents are asked to give feedback on policies and procedures throughout the year, i.e. through surveys and at parent nights. Any changes to policies and procedures are outlined to parents in advance via newsletters and notices.
Centre noticeboards, displays and regular newsletters are used to inform parents of upcoming centre events. Parents are invited to share their ideas and insights on learning programs for children.
Any parental involvement, however small, is always welcome and appreciated. We also recognise, parents should have the option of not being involved (beyond a minimum level of communication with staff each day) if that is their preference.
Are the children ‘just playing’ or do you also educate my child?
At Sandcastles, care and education are intertwined in our play-based learning programs. From your child’s first day in care we observe and plan learning experiences based on his/her interests, needs and developmental level, at the same time meeting your child’s physical and emotional needs.
We recognise staff as our greatest asset. We employ staff with a range of qualifications, skills and experience. We make every effort to recruit and retain the best possible early childhood staff to care for and educate your child.
We have thorough recruitment procedures to ensure all staff have the appropriate skills and experience for the position they hold.
Staff are provided with training opportunities throughout their employment to enhance their skills and keep up to date with current knowledge of best practice in early childhood.
We carry out regular staff appraisals to gain an understanding of the skills, knowledge and attitude of individual staff members. We aim to support the professional development of each staff member and create opportunities for them to develop their proficiency.
Our team of staff work in partnership with families to provide a service that meets the needs of the children, parents and the teaching team.
Children learn from staff behaviour and consequently staff are expected to be positive role models. Staff model a variety of behaviours including communication skills, acceptance of health and hygiene practices and other appropriate behaviours.
At our centre carers are nurtured and their skills are challenged. We respect the staff’s initiative, innovation and attention to quality, as well as their commitment to the children and their families.
Working with Children Checks
We carry out reference checks on all staff employed at the centre to gain an understanding of the competence, reliability and attitude of the candidates. To comply with the Child Protection (Prohibited Employment) Act 1998 and the Commission for Children and Young People Act 1998, a Working with Children check is done on all full, part-time and casual employees as well as ongoing visitors who will be working with the children.
Parent Teacher Communication
At the core of our beliefs is the idea that positive partnerships between families and centres helps us create the best environment for every child.
We offer a digital solution in our centres known as Educa through which parents and families are informed about their child’s day thanks to an informative and intuitive system. Habits such as sleeping habits, toilet practises, your child’s response to the day and any healthy or safety issues that may have arisen are brought to your attention.
Should any issues or concerns arise during the day, our educators will be in contact with you informally during pick-up times or over the phone.