Early childhood learning in Bathurst is an increasingly hot topic. Strong population growth has led to an increased demand for child care and education across the city, and one organisation is rising to meet the challenge.
Mitchell Early Learning Centre (MELC) celebrated their 30th birthday last year and has a wonderful history of childhood learning, development and care. Awarded the NSW Early Childhood Service of the Year in 2015, the not for profit centre focuses on the right of every child to be cared for and educated in an early childhood environment that has love, nurturing, fun and safety at the heart of its goals.
MELC Director, Julia Alexander, said that the centre balances the needs of the children in their care and uses the Early Years Learning Framework to strive towards best practice. "The framework gives our educators a great curriculum to follow and it's set up perfectly to provide our students a sense of belonging while allowing them to grow and develop," she said. "We utilise a strong mix of indoor and outdoor education to help our students benefit from different experiences and learning environments".
MELC and their enrolled students certainly benefit from the abundance of space they have available. Able to cater for up to 70 children, the indoors rooms are an exhibit of fun and engaging learning methods, while Julia said the larger than normal, fully enclosed play area provides the perfect environment for kids to grow. "It's great to have so much space available for the kids where they can play and learn with each other".
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Being located on the Bathurst Charles Sturt University (CSU) campus not only provides more space for the students but also offers other exciting options as well including nature walks, free excursions and visits to the library. CSU also provides the opportunity for their early childhood students to be involved with MELC. CSU students are able to participate in events such as Book Week where they read to children and do craft and other activities with them, while their "Earn and Learn' program allows CSU students to develop their skills.
Julia said that MELC also encourages it's own educators to develop their skills with a number of staff completing higher qualifications and degrees to not only increase their skill set, but also to provide better learning outcomes for those in their care. "We have a very high qualification rate already but it is great to see our educators always wanting to do that bit better for themselves and our children, and will always support them in their training" she said.
For more information visit the Mitchell Early Learning Centre website.