By Jenny Brinkworth
Pictured: Johnny and Olivia Foat show their cooking skills to mum Selina at the new Alive Learning Centre, Parafield Gardens
“I’m excited to be able to do one drop off,” she said. “And it’s great to have the resources and facilities of the new centre…everything is very impressive.”
Three-year-old Olivia started attending the centre on January 10.
Selina said Olivia had always loved coming to school to drop off her big brother and was happy to now be going to the “big school”.
Director Janine Griffin said Selina’s comments reflected the expectation from the community that Alive be a “familial and community experience”.
“That’s one of our primary objectives,” she said.
“So much is possible – children from the school will come and visit us and we will visit them, and our children will be able to participate in school concerts, school assembly on Fridays and events such as Spring Fair and Harmony Day.”
Janine said her own involvement in early childhood education, which began 23 years ago, came from an appreciation of children and the way they look at the world.
“I enjoy the way they think and their honesty, it gives us a sense of what is human,” she said.
At her previous early care and learning service, where she was also director, the Reggio Emilia approach to learning was applied and in 2017 she participated in a study tour to the town of Reggio Emilia, where it all began, in Italy.
“My recent learning has been inspired by Professor Carla Rinaldi and the influences of Reggio Emilia educational approach which centred on developing an understanding of what it means to be a very young citizen in our community,” she said.
“I hope to bring some of my learning from this project to our community and to learn more about how we can build pathways for young children to be active participants, having a voice, sharing their ideas and participating within their community and beyond.
“We are forging new ways to expand the educational and spiritual experience for children and families.”
While Janine was attracted to the role by the prospect of a new challenge, she also liked the idea of working closely with the Holy Family Catholic School.
“I have seen how important it is to have brothers and sisters interact with each other,” she said.
“I think that’s really appealing at a time when there is such a strong focus on mobile phones and individual activities.
“When children spend time with each other, with older peers, what I’ve seen emerge is a genuine caring by older children for the younger ones and the younger ones benefitting by being with older children.
She added that it was great to be working with Holy Family principal Kerry White, a “mover and shaker” who is recognised as an innovative educator.
The centre is expected to have 24 staff when it reaches full capacity of about 80 children.
Currently there is one full-time early childhood teacher and another part-time teacher will be added for the integrated pre-school program.
A mother of two adult children and grandmother to three, Janine said her vision for the centre was for a place where “children can come and be in a safe and secure environment, where they can express their ideas, experiment, form long-term relationships, feel welcome and part of the community, and can realise their own citizenship”.
As for their spiritual development, she said spirituality involved all the “traits of being human”.
“It’s not hard to role model kindness, compassion, respect and love which I think are present in all people,” she explained.
“If you grow up with that around you, and see the beautiful side of people and of creation, that’s how I see spirituality.
“It’s up to parents to determine what practices they might undertake to express that within their own home, culture, faith and community.
“They might be part of any religious denomination or faith background – our role is to model those qualities and values. I think that is religion in action.”