For the Else family, the mark of a great preschool is the friendliness, approachability and flexibility of staff and teachers, along with the quality of the early childhood education programmes in place. And for parents Melanie and Chris, Penguins meets all of these requirements and more.
The Else's were already very familiar with everything Penguins had to offer as their daughter Madison had previously attended the centre and had a "wonderful time". So they were very confident that Charlotte would flourish under the preschool's expert care.
"When you walk into the centre, you can see how happy the students are. That was a big drawcard for us, and the level of care has been incredible," says Melanie. "The staff have really looked after Charlotte, helping her reach different age milestones, recording and sharing these with the family. And she always is happy when I pick her up, so this must mean there is plenty of attention given."
But exceptional teachers and a nurturing and inclusive environment are not the only attractions at Penguins. In addition, the ample outdoor spaces with swings, slides, bike trails, water features and even a centre orchard were particularly appealing to the Else family, as was the convenient location with easy access and ample parking for busy parents.
With a small ratio of children to teachers, little ones are assured plenty of individual attention and dedicated support. And for two-and-a-half-year-old Charlotte, her favourite thing about Penguins is undoubtedly interacting with her teachers every day.
The bright and bubbly toddler also loves water and sand play and adores playing games with the other children – especially when she has the chance to act as the mother figure.
Currently in the Fantail Room (for two to three-year-olds), Charlotte's teachers promote an inquiry and play-based learning programme. This approach enables Charlotte and her young classmates to develop cognitive, social and emotional skills while helping them make sense of the wider world.
"Charlotte is definitely not a shy child. She is loud and knows exactly what she wants and how to get it. The teachers tap into her interests and allow her to explore these every day," confirms Melanie. "They are constantly offering different types of activities for her to investigate and get a taste of to see what she is most excited about."
Another benefit for Melanie is the strong relationships Penguins build with families and the level of communication they provide about Charlotte's ongoing development. Penguins staff send regular reports and updates through Educa – a platform where teachers share each child's unique journey so parents and families can follow their learning experiences, share ideas and collaborate.
Adds Melanie, "We are sent a story for Educa, mostly every week if not every fortnight, showing what she has been learning."
The Else family couldn't be happier about their decision to send Charlotte to Penguins School of Early Learning. And when asked how she would describe the centre to friends, Melanie had the following words to share, "amazing, accommodating, flexible, loving and fun."