2013 Review Submitted by Warwick Marshall (parent and ECE qualified teacher)
Kidz Corner Miramar
Address: 39 Park Road, Miramar, Wellington
Maximum licence number of children: 38 children (including 12 under 2 year-olds)
Number of Teaching Staff: 11
Hours: 7.30am – 5.30pm. Closed for 2 weeks at Christmas (fees charged during this time).
Management: A community based early childhood centre run by a charitable trust. It was originally established in 1985 by members of the Miramar Baptist Church. In 2012 the Kidz Corner Trust Board purchased the centre from the church.
Before visiting Kidz Corner in Miramar I called to check if they were back in full swing after the holiday break. The manager, Jillian, assured me they were. She invited us to just pop in any day or time at our convenience which is reassuring as it indicates all is well with the centre during business as usual and that someone would be available whenever either I or my 2.5yr old child needed them.
Pulling into the road car park brought me right in front of the outdoor play area and entrance gate. Having been renovated from a residential house the fence line sits along the footpath close to the road edge. I would imagine parents should take care as fast little feet would be in the middle of the road in seconds. Actually I later found this out when my child bolted out of the gate as we were leaving.
We received friendly greetings from all the teachers who pointed us towards the office. The centre manager, Jillian, greeted us both while also helping a little one who wanted some company. Jillian thought it great that I had a clipboard and questions at the ready.
We began to walk around the 2-5yr olds’ room where I saw all the children were engaged with lots of activities that were attractively laid out including puzzles, play dough, painting (about 4 painting easels I think), books, teacher on couch, mezzanine to walk up or be under (provided private, quiet space if needed) and of most interest to my child, a fish tank. Art work was displayed for all to see and while there were some blank spaces in general the walls were interesting to look at. Carpet dominated the room with lino in the art and eating areas. This room had a more modern look but retained some homely atmosphere due to having so much in it. This was a large room that I think would accommodate all 27 children pretty well on a rainy day. The wooden floorboards, shelving and lockers in the hallway lead to the under 2 area which I could see was renovated so as to keep the original homely shape, look and feel. With 10 children in this area and 4 teachers in both areas the ratios seem to be very good, although I recall seeing only 3 teachers in the over 2’s room and 2 teachers in the under 2’s area. All the under 2 children were in a large carpeted room with big windows playing with bubbles and walking across a challenging wobbly bridge. About 10 minutes later I saw them spread out into another room with items laid out for them to explore. I would say indoor space for both age groups is more than adequate.
Outdoor space though wasn’t so generous. I have to admit feeling that the children (especially boys) were fizzing. Fast and furious did come to mind. What space there was had been well used. The children had created a bike path around the main climbing equipment and this seemed to be the main source of entertainment today. There were a lot of balls but not a whole lot that one could do with them due to the limited space and I’d imagine teachers are fairly cautious with balls easily going over the fence onto the road. I think I could see some frustration in the children who were occasionally bumping into each other but usually showing fairly good courtesy.
The sandpit merged nicely with the surrounding trees but seemed too small and narrow; it looked full with only two children in it. It didn’t feel inviting and lay empty with a lot of utensils scattered over it (although my child jumped right in). The sand itself also felt hard/compacted and difficult to dig into as though it was very shallow. Sand blew into the eyes when standing in or around the area, I wonder if the wind funnels through there. I saw a compost bin and planter boxes with flowers and veggies thus perhaps being so close to the children they would all likely partake in gardening activities. Looking over to the under 2’s area it looked a lot more natural with dirt and grass as opposed to the over 2 children’s area’s matting though the matting design did look pretty groovy.
Several large windows in the fence allowed children to peer out and from the deck and on top of the play equipment children get a good view of passing vehicles including lots of yellow buses. I told a teacher about my concerns regarding space and she advised that the children might sometimes visit the school grounds next door during school holidays. I was told that siblings can easily go between rooms and that every day the two rooms will mix and the two outdoor spaces are shared.
With my child being half Japanese I asked about cultural practices with the response that words used at home are sometimes put up on the walls and used by the teachers.
After we had finished our discussions Jillian invited us to hang around and wander about by ourselves, more reassurance that the manager is confident in the centre and team.
All the teachers are either qualified or in training except one experienced adult.
I really appreciated the teachers taking an interest in and asking about my child. A child being dropped off for the day was comforted affectionately, children approaching teachers were promptly attended to and conflict was given a chance to resolve itself before teachers intervened to prevent escalation. I didn’t see the teachers interacting together much as they were focused on the children. Most of the teachers have been there for at least 5 years, which again is very reassuring.
Food is brought from home for the rolling morning/ afternoon teas and rolling lunch (rolling being that the children can choose to come eat lunch during set times). Children also have the freedom to come to story times. I like the idea of giving freedom to the children for such routines because it means teachers will know if their readings, songs or activities are interesting and motivating enough for the children to come. Thus I was glad to hear that when they ring the bell generally all the children come. However, I think children enjoy and benefit from being together in a big group for fun and interesting mat-times and loving interactive meal times. Mat-times are not scheduled because the programme follows the children’s interests and free play. Thus the teachers will judge so as not to interrupt.
While there is a waiting list I was told some spaces may come available soon. The centre offers full day (minimum of 2 days) care as well as sessional with the afternoon sessions usually having spaces available. The weekly rate for full day care of $225 was pretty good value I thought and with the 20-Hours ECE subsidy when 3yrs old the rate reduces to $150. Sessions are a reasonable $26.50 each. However, perhaps a little less reasonable is being expected to continue payments 52 weeks a year even during the 2 week Christmas/New Year break. To me that means $300 to $500 on top of all my other holiday expenses.
After catching up with my child and pulling him off the road and into the car I managed to collect my thoughts. I wasn't sure how I felt about the centre. On reflection perhaps a part of my confusion was because while I had some reservations regarding the size of the outdoors area there was certainly a lot of other things to be reassured about.