Kids Plus goes back-to-basics to inspire natural learning

Kids Plus Coolum owner David Leslie and Centre Director Kym Warren enjoy playtime in the new outdoor area with Kids Plus ‘kids’ Ryder, Luka, Janaya & Alexis.
Kids Plus Coolum owner David Leslie and Centre Director Kym Warren enjoy playtime in the new outdoor area with Kids Plus ‘kids’ Ryder, Luka, Janaya & Alexis.

While Coolum’s Kids Plus Child Care Centre already ticks all the boxes as a caring, friendly and fun environment for young children, a recent yard enrichment is encouraging learning through natural experiences.
In a back-to-basics approach, the Centre has reenergised its traditional play areas and, through extensive landscaping works, created imaginative pockets of garden, a digging patch, a ‘kids-choice’ veggie garden, a cosy outdoor play table and new, soft grassed areas.
For Kids Plus owners David and Simone Leslie, the revamp is all about allowing kids to explore the world outside at their own pace, discovering secrets of the natural environment as they go.
“The kids love the new yard. As soon as I opened it up, they all ran to the ‘secret garden’ and started exploring,” David said.
“What I didn’t realise though, was that the transitional slope in the new grassed area would provide the perfect little hill to roll down and they spent a couple of hours rolling down the hill and giggling. It was just beautiful to watch.”
“We wanted to go back to creating an environment for the children that they would love and have fond memories of when they leave the Centre.  When you think about it, some of our own fondest memories are not of the times we spent playing video games, or on the latest technology, but the fun and games we made up outside!” David explained.
“We’ve introduced a setting that mirrors their own backyards at home and gives them the freedom to explore, imagine and discover.
“It’s getting them back to what they love and then engaging them in a learning experience with what they are doing naturally anyway –  allowing them just to be children.”
“It’s about chasing lizards, rolling down hills, digging in the dirt with Tonka Toys; sometimes it’s the little things that make the most difference.
The revamp, which has taken almost six weeks to complete, includes a dedicated garden focused on teaching children how to take care of plants and where to plant them.
“It’s seems amazing to me that even today, many children of this age still think all of their food comes from a supermarket,” David said.
“So, what we’re trying to do here from the get-go is incorporate their learning into the environment and vice versa.  It’s not just about the technology; it’s how to bring learning to life, creating a fascinating and captivating environment that harvests the desire to learn,  engaging them in activity on their own terms.”
Born in 2006 out of a desire to provide the smaller, people-focused details often lacking in other child care centres, Kids Plus Coolum prides itself on delivering a welcoming, homelike environment with caring, friendly staff in comfortable, custom-designed facilities.
But the Kids Plus difference is more than just facilities and learning. The Centre includes ‘caring for whole families’ as an integral part of their service.
From providing families new to the area with local and familiar resources, inviting parents to free special events or surprising them with ‘random acts of kindness’ (which last week was fresh coffee, free on arrival), every Kids Plus family is made to feel special.
“Being parents of young children ourselves, we understand the importance of creating memories while a child is still young and we know what we want as parents. So we try to engage with the parents more and show that we do actually care for people; it’s not just about being in business,” said David.
“We have a Graduation Day every year with real gowns and caps. We also create a ‘Learning Journey’ CD and booklet for each child so every parent walks away with a complete memory of the child’s development over that year.
“Parents want to have memories of their child and what they did during this precious time in their lives, and be able to pass it onto them when they’re older.  That’s why we are deliberate in putting together a beautiful collection of photos and memories from throughout the year on CD for each child as an end of year gift. “
Looking after and appreciating their high-quality staff is another ‘small detail’ on which David and Simone place a great deal of importance.
“Happy staff means happy kids. It seems really basic but is considered part of the Kids Plus difference.  We try and show our staff that we appreciate them.
“They have rostered days off, we pay for training and we love to make a big fuss of them on special occasions like Christmas. Just recently, Simone and I surprised them with a single rose each – just because we appreciate their hearts and the work they do.
“I think it’s incredibly important for children to feel secure and have a great long term relationship with their carers.  All of our staff are long term employees so we must be doing something right.”
Kids Plus is holding an Easter Open Day on Saturday 23 March, 2013 which will double as their sixth birthday Celebration.
Drop in to the centre at School Road, Coolum to experience the Kids Plus difference for yourself, phone (07) 5471 6477 or visit www.kidsplus.com.au.