Built by a community, for the community is an apt description of a new childcare centre in Stanmore Bay, which opens later this month.
Cottontails Childcare is the creation of five families who wanted quality care for their own young children and recognised that other parents on the Coast had a similar need. They decided the best way to achieve this was to build their own centre.
They leased the historic cottage at 195 Brightside Road, occupied until recently by the Masala Restaurant, and undertook a major renovation, which has given the old structure a new lease of life both inside and out.
The historic feel of the building has been retained, but it has been made light, airy and warm. The grounds have been completely re-done to provide a safe play environment, where children will be encouraged to enjoy and explore the natural world.
The facility can cater for up to 65 children, aged from birth to six years of age, five days a week, from 7am-6.30pm.
Manager Jo MacAskill, who moved from Ashburton to take up her position, says the centre is an early childhood teacher’s dream.
“The centre is about putting the children first and foremost in everything we do,” Jo says. “Teacher/child ratios reflect this and there is an emphasis on building strong partnerships with parents so they know they are valued as the children’s first teachers. It is also about making the whole childcare experience as stress free as possible.”
She says the centre is borrowing the best from a number of different early childhood philosophies and curriculum is aimed at developing the children’s social skills, as well as setting the foundations for a lifelong love of learning.
The centre welcomes enquiries from parents and has been running a series of ‘settling in days’ for the new entrants.
Jo, who has been a teacher for more than 20 years, says she never tires of working with young children.
“Where else can you come to work and everyone is pleased to see you and wants to give you a hug!”