It is often said that a child sees the world through the eyes of his or her Father, Mother and Teacher in that order. Early years of every child are therefore important and they determine the strength and weakness of the future generations.
Parents who are keen on imparting good education to their children will not only ensure that their wards are progressing well but also try to help them with their studies at home.
The formative years of a child are critical for mental and physical development. These years also determine the character and personality of the child, which is why, Early Childhood Education (ECE) has gained attention of governments and private education providers. The New Zealand government spent $1.64 billion on ECE in 2013, translating to about $9700 per child (on full time basis).
Childcare Centres form the important link in the ECE chain, enabling parents and caregivers to concentrate on their daytime jobs.
Among these, the ‘Discoveries Educare’ is the most prominent provider in the Indian community. From a modest beginning with one Centre in 2009, the organisation today steadily expanded to account for nine Centres throughout Auckland. They include one each in Manurewa (9/11 Boon Street), Papatoetoe (79, Kolmar Road), Mangere (69, Gadsby Road), Highland Park (20 Dunrobin Place), Henderson (151 Lincoln Road), New Market (29 Gilles Avenue), Wairau Valley (126 Target Road), Browns Bay (26 Anzac Road) and Albany (16/25 Corban Avenue, Othea Valley).
In terms of government directives, each of these Centres provides up to 20 hours of ECE free of charge. Almost all these provide additional ten hours at no cost to parents and caregivers.
Rippan Sandhu, a qualified teacher and a mother of two children is the driving force behind ‘Discoveries,’ and is committed to quality teaching and learning in an environment that is conducive for the amusement and growth of children.
While experience in the ECE of her own children enabled Ms Sandhu to understand the key factors in their successful development, her passion to foster such development of children in various communities encouraged her to embark on the ‘Discoveries Educare Centres.’ Her vision of childcare delivery is to synergise all the elements required for the wellbeing of a child in a good and clean environment with a professional team.
Mrs Sandhu said that a majority of the Discoveries Centres are purpose-built, taking into account the needs of the area and other local factors.
“The Focus of our Group is on quality education at affordable price. Most of our Centres provide freshly cooked vegetarian food, promoting a healthy and balanced diet,” she said.
Discoveries Administrator Dr S Ajit is equally passionate about ECE and brings his knowledge of holistic health to the delivery of quality childcare services.
He believes that diet, environment and lifestyle impact on a child’s state of mind and hence education plans should be built on the strength of these factors.
“Our philosophy is to provide children with a secure learning environment so that they feel safe and nurtured. Children at our Centres enjoy the challenge of learning and grow in their ability to explore the world around them. Children enjoy being in our Centres, as their teachers respect their cultures and focus on their well-being and learning,” he said.
Mrs Sandhu agreed, saying that understanding and appreciating varied cultural and religious sentiments are very important in tending to children at Childcare Centres.
“Our teaching and administrative staff come from different cultural and religious backgrounds. They recognise the growing cultural diversity of our communities and are well-prepared to make parents and children comfortable in their care,” she said.
Business Manager Ranjilla Chandra is the vital link in the Discoveries chain, connecting the owners, parents, teachers, staff and children in a pentagon of relationship.
A qualified and experienced ECE teacher, she supports the entire team at Discoveries Educare in the delivery of quality childhood education.
“Our programme is based on the principles and strands of the government’s Early Childhood Curriculum (Te Whaariki). Children are observed and assessed through various evaluation tools (learning stories, child’s voice, parent input, individual development plans) and this information assists in the monthly programme planning for each child,” she said.