Delivering a complete experience for the next generation
When Carolyn Holmes set out to design Nurture and Develop Early Childhood Centre in Sandgate, NSW, she had a very specific vision in mind.
‘My aim was to make our centre feel like a home rather than a business,’ Carolyn explained. ‘I wanted to deliver a complete experience to every child that comes through the door. And for that experience to be enriching, nurturing and educational, the whole centre had to emanate quality.’
Children deserve high quality resources
Carolyn had managed centres previously and was never content with the basic plastic toys and furniture generally available for early learning centres. ‘I’m inspired by Reggio Emilia, RIE and Pikler philosophies. If we respect our children and want them to develop well, we should offer them quality products in their early years. For this reason, I chose STEP4 Learning Resources to help me fit out the new centre.’
Carolyn was impressed by the high quality, home-like furniture and resources available from STEP4. ‘We ordered natural timber Versatek tables, Venice chairs, poppet feeding chairs and the birchwood gym set amongst many other things. I wouldn’t say I have one favourite product because it’s the holistic experience that makes our centre unique. All the products work together with the décor to create a homely atmosphere and a quality learning environment.’
Cots and poppets are popular with staff
‘The staff love the cots,’ Carolyn said. ‘The high position means they don’t have to bend down to pick up children. We chose the poppet seats instead of highchairs as they are snug, comfortable and enclosed. Poppets also double as stools so it’s easy to feed the children and for adults to be part of the whole meal experience, just like at home.’
Nurture and Develop children’s rooms have a seamless flow so there is a visual connection. Low level windows with views mean the children can see what is happening in other rooms, providing stimulation and promoting curiosity. Carolyn also added interesting light shades (there are no fluorescent lights in the children’s rooms), wall art and domestic house mats, rather than conventional children’s play-mats. The covered indoor/outdoor space with a sandpit allows creative backyard play in all weathers.
Versatility from products with multiple uses
Carolyn reflected on her experience. ‘The team at STEP4 are very approachable and knowledgeable, and their ordering process was excellent. As they are a family business who take pride in customer service, I can ring up and speak to someone who knows me; it’s so much better than dealing with call centres. I also particularly like products that are natural or have multiple uses, and STEP4 has a good range. The poppet chairs are a good example of a multi-use product—it can be a feeding chair, an activity chair or an adult stool – we’ve even used them as a foot-step to reach things!’
STEP4 provided their assembly service to Nurture and Develop. ‘That was amazing,’ Carolyn said. ‘They spent two days putting everything together and then took the rubbish away! I’m really happy with everything. The centre feels warm and cosy from the moment you step inside, rather than clinical or commercial.’
Children cannot wait to explore
The 74-place centre with six age rooms from six weeks to preschool recently opened its doors to prospective families. ‘We received very positive feedback from parents and children at our open days. Parents were amazed that even typically shy children couldn’t wait to go off and explore the centre with our staff. It shows that they are comfortable to let go of their parent’s hand and immerse themselves in our wonderful environment.’