16 April 2021

The magic of Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool

| Wendy Johnson
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Teacher and children playing at WCS Evatt Preschool

The joy of playing and learning: Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool is an inclusive place for tiny students who are three to five years of age. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Watching a child learn is magic. At Woden Community Service (WCS) Evatt Preschool, teachers and staff get to witness that magic with tiny students aged from three to five years.

While not all Canberra preschools take little ones starting at age three, WCS Evatt Preschool does, providing fun, active and recreationally based environments that stimulate and help children grow – for preschool, before-and-after school and on school holidays, all on one site.

An inclusive place for children with different abilities, backgrounds, family structures and culture, WCS Evatt Preschool provides a safe and secure environment.

WCS Evatt Preschool team leader Barbara Butt says there’s no describing the joy when three-to-five-year-olds create and learn.

After almost 35 years in family day care, Barbara landed at the preschool and was thoroughly impressed by the uniqueness of its offering. Activities and learning are tailored to the interests of young ones and the results are nothing less than inspiring.

Barbara Butt from WCS Evatt Preschool

Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool team leader Barbara Butt says activities and learning are tailored to the interests of young ones. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“We’re play based and design programs and activities around what children love,” says Barbara. “At this age we encourage preschoolers to socialise, relate to peers and develop a thirst for new things. We see these little students as capable and independent learners.”

Picking up on children’s interests is key at WCS Evatt Preschool and it helps that the school is well-resourced with teachers who are passionate, motivated and imaginative.

“One little girl loved hairdressing and beauty so we set up a small salon for her,” says Barbara. “We made a sign for the salon with her name on it, organised a chair and mirror, bought toy hairdryers, squirt bottles and fake scissors. Then we invited other children to make an appointment for treatments.”

Students sitting at table at WCS Evatt Preschool

Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool sees little students as capable and independent learners. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Barbara also fondly recalls a little boy who was a massive dinosaur fan, but not keen on noisy, busy spaces so the team at WCS Evatt Preschool set up tailored activities for him in quiet areas, indoors and outdoors.

“Nothing is too hard for us,” says Barbara.

WCS Evatt Preschool believes in developing awareness of the environment and ways to reduce pollution. Sustainability and a positive relationship with the outdoors is a major focus, with children learning to fly kites and play in nature.

The preschool has veggie gardens and teaches children about growing food, recycling and reusing. Children are keen to poke about in the dirt and gather leaves for the compost bin.

Tiahn Fernandez, service coordinator, also agrees that WCS Evatt Preschool is truly special.

“We don’t pressure children, but encourage them,” says Tiahn. “We’re driven by what children are inspired to do and while there’s freedom, there’s also enough structure and routine to prepare them for more formal schooling.”

Children playing in yard at WCS Evatt Preschool

The research is clear that two years of high-quality preschool can make a valuable difference to long-term educational outcomes. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Research evidence is clear that two years of high-quality preschool can make a significant difference to long-time educational outcomes. At WCS Evatt Preschool, activities include art and craft, sports, games, dramatic play, construction, cooking and excursions. Little ones build skills, develop ideas and strengthen confidence.

“We believe all students have talents and we are motivated to help them discover their uniqueness,” says Tiahn. “It’s amazing when you hear children squeal, ‘I did it! I did it all by myself!’”

Other advantages of WCS Evatt Preschool are that numbers are small, school care fees include healthy breakfasts, morning and afternoon teas, and lunches, and relationships with families are strong.

A big bonus for parents is convenience. Because WCS Evatt Preschool is in a building adjacent to the ACT Government’s Evatt Preschool, parents and children have access to the full offerings of both a community-based preschool and a government preschool, all on one site.

Children watering vegetable garden at WCS Evatt Preschool

Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool has veggie gardens and teaches children about growing food, recycling and reusing. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

“The children become very familiar and settled in the school community,” says Barbara. “By the time they start kindergarten they have a strong sense of belonging, with the friendships they’ve developed and great confidence. They’re primed for their formal education journey.”

Parents also love having one drop-off point for their children from age three for all schooling and care needs.

“They may arrive as early as 7:30 am for before-school care,” says Barbara. “The children attend preschool from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and then may enter after-school care until 6:00 pm if required, all at the same place. This is basically unheard of in Canberra. It saves some parents from potentially dropping off and picking up at three locations and at three times each day.”

For more information on Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool and Primary OSHC programs, or to arrange a visit, contact 02 6147 3318 or email enrolments@wcs.org.au.

Children in class at WCS Evatt Preschool

Woden Community Service Evatt Preschool is driven by what children aged three to five years are inspired to do. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

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