Alive Catholic Early Learning Centre at Parafield Gardens will introduce a six month to three year program from early next year.
Co-located at Holy Family Catholic School, the centre opened in January as a three to five year old early learning centre (ELC) and has recently been renovated to cater for the younger age group.
Acting director of Alive Parafield Gardens, Nicole Tropeano-Atyeo, said the centre’s philosophy of giving children opportunities to fully develop socially, emotionally and cognitively applied from birth.
“Our vision is to partner with families, nurture children to their full potential and provide an exceptional learning experience from six months to five years,” she says.
“We see the image of God in every child, because of that we see them all as fully competent and capable citizens from birth with inherent rights and special skills and talents.”
Nicole has been involved with the Holy Family community for 15 years as a teacher and leader of learning and more recently at the ELC as an early childhood teacher.
She says Alive has its own community but is “blessed” to be part of the “deeply loved” Holy Family community as well.
Children at the ELC have access to the school’s resources and learning spaces such as the fish farm and library and siblings are able to visit each other. But Nicole says it’s also about the “pedagogy” with the Reggio Emilia approach influential in both the school and the ELC.
Nicole says for parents, having their baby or toddler in the same environment as their older children is about more than convenience: “they love the school community and for their younger child to be part of that is something they really value.”
With a strong multicultural element to the centre, Nicole says diversity is “our greatest strength” and an opportunity for a “deeper relationship”.
Part of being a welcoming and inclusive community is listening to the families and being aware of how their cultural and religious practices impact on things like meals.
“We don’t serve beef or pork and don’t include onion and garlic because we understand they are deeply tied to people’s religious beliefs and we greatly respect that,” Nicole explains.
“Like the (Holy Family) school, families know we are Catholic and that we are proud of that tradition and that we do teach about Christmas, gospel values, Catholic social teaching, and they’re very respectful of that. But we are also a dialogue school…accepting of religious beliefs of others as well, that’s really living the gospel values and living the teachings of Jesus.”
Alive Parafield Gardens is part of a major Adelaide Archdiocese initiative which will see a number of centres established across Adelaide over the next few years.
Alive Hove, co-located at the new McAuley Community School, will open in the new year and planning for the third Alive centre is underway and will be co-located at St Francis de Sales College early in 2021.
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Source: This article originally appeared in The Southern Cross.