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, says the centre’s philosophy of giving children opportunities to fully develop socially, emotionally and cognitively applies 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 the convenience of one drop off: “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 accepting of religious beliefs of others, that’s really living the gospel values and the teachings of Jesus.”
Two-year-old Isabelle Paterson will be one of the first children under three to start at the centre next year, joining her sister Charlotte at the ELC and her older brother at Holy Family School. Mum Melissa says the staff have made Charlotte feel very welcomed and loved, and it was nice for her to be able to attend school activities such as assemblies and Christmas carols. “Charlotte always has a lot of good things to say about her day,” she says.
Alive Parafield Gardens is part of a major Adelaide Archdiocese initiative which will see a number of centres established over the next few years.
Alive Hove, co-located at the new McAuley Community School, will open in 2020 and planning is underway for the third centre, to be co-located at St Francis de Sales College, Mt Barker.
For more information visit www.alivecatholic.org.au