During 2016 we decided to improve the play areas throughout Columba Cottages. The old areas were looking tired and required lots of maintenance. We hired the services of a local designer, Claire Mathieson, who provided the Director and Management Committee with plans. The plans went to tender with a local contractor, Ben from BNJ Landscapes, being awarded the contract. Of course, in the Child Care sector nowadays, there are numerous regulations regarding unencumbered spaces, soft fall, and inclusion of natural elements.
Our new playgrounds are impressive! They utilise the space in a more efficient manner, allow children spaces to run, explore, and play with their friends and add some sensory and sustainability principles. Each area was built with special characteristics for the age of the children that use them.
The babies playground has a sensory garden, lots of soft fall on which we can place climbing equipment, some lovely grass to crawl on and an impressively large storage cupboard.The toddlers area has a dry creek bed which really sets imaginations on fire – is it a dinosaur pit, or a mountain to climb? Sometimes they pretend it’s a construction site which needs to be raked and sometimes the rocks are cooked in the home corner! The fort and climbing frames have certainly had a work out and our children are learning about road rules as they head their bikes around the track.All three areas have a sand but but the preschool children also get to play in the ‘firepit’, the cubby or with the water hand pump. Children have been pumping the water into watering cans and keeping the plants happy using the water harvested from the stormwater drains. The cubby is a nice place to have a rest or listen to a story and the pirate boat has inspired many an adventure. The best according to many children, is the large strip of green grass on which they can run, play soccer or golf or have races.
About the author: All round go-getter, Susanna Christie, is the Executive Director of Columba Cottage Early Learning Centre, where she leads a passionate team of 50 staff who love what they do, caring for children ranging in age from 6 weeks to 6 years. With a background in teaching from pre-school through to university, Susanna is passionate about all aspects of child development and wellbeing. Her qualifications include a Masters in Education, Bachelor of Teaching and a Graduate Diploma in Educational Studies. Susanna’s aim is to ensure that Columba Cottage remains the best Early Learning Centre on the Mid North Coast.