It is 8.45am as the children burst excitedly through the door. They are warmly welcomed by the playgroup coordinator, before dashing straight to their favourite play nook. Two children head for the pretend food and start handing out pizzas, two others don their smocks and create finger painting masterpieces, another two make a beeline to the fine motor skills table to thread beads onto string necklaces and two boisterous boys head for the dinosaurs. The mums and dads file in chatting and laughing. One of them goes straight to the kitchen to organise the much needed teas and coffees, two others settle on the comfy sofa to discuss school fundraising and the rest play with their children.
Welcome to Playgroup at Beechboro Christian School.
Back in 2009 a group of parents requested that the school run a playgroup as there was none in the area. Starting with around five children just one morning a week, Beechboro Christian School’s playgroup has since grown to welcome 70 children up to four years of age, with sessions running from 8.45-10.45am every school morning.
Playgroup Co-ordinator, Annelie Strydom, says “Playgroup is one of our treasures.
“It is a relaxed and inviting environment where caregivers can relate and form friendships, while watching their children socially interact and learn.
“Being on site at school allows the children to get Kindy-ready in a playful atmosphere and develop friendships before they enter school, ensuring a smoother transition,” Annelie says.
Every session offers inside and outside play, a craft activity, and song and story time. In keeping with the heart of the school, children learn the school’s memory verse for that week and say a prayer before morning tea.
Mum Lorilei, an inaugural student at BCS herself, says, “I love talking to the parents about something other than the Wiggles. Also, as we’re on acreage in the Swan Valley, my son has no one to play with. He loves coming here to play with other children his age.”
Mother of twins, Sam, adds, “My son wasn’t sharing very well at home so I have brought them here to learn how to do that.”
Both the three-year-old kindy and playgroup programs have merits. Two of the strengths of BCS’s playgroup are that at $20 per term, it is affordable for all families. Additionally, as the program partners with parents, they feel more integrated to the school.
“The real focus is on building community, however, the fact that 90% of our playgroup children join our Kindy is a real blessing,” says Annelie.
BCS’s Head of Campus, Geoff Dunjey, agrees, “It is all about building community. For some of our parents, the school is the only family they know here in Australia.”
“One of our School’s greatest assets is our strong community, and building that community starts right here,” concludes Mr Justin Krause, Principal of Beechboro Christian School and Ellenbrook Christian College.
“Additionally, it is a great foundation in readiness for school," Mr Krause said.
Playgroup still has limited spaces on Tuesdays and Thursdays only. See more at beechborocs.wa.edu.au/community/playgroup or phone 9377 5211.