Big plans for new Baringa centre
When the doors opened at Goodstart Early Learning’s brand new Baringa centre today, experienced centre director Jacky McDonald was ready to hit the ground running.
Ms McDonald, who hails from the award-winning Goodstart Nambour City View Terrace, will implement many outdoor activities, including bush kinder, wetlands walks and bike riding days.
The $3.7 million centre, has a focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) programming, and will form part of Stockland’s Aura development at Baringa.
The new early learning centre will be surrounded by parklands, wetlands and nature walks, making it the ideal spot for outdoor play.
“There is a real focus on the outdoors and getting the children at the centre out and about. We’ll be incorporating the STEM program in the outdoor environment which I believe is vitally important all children,” Ms McDonald said.
To prepare for the opening, Ms McDonald has recently attended the Early Childhood Australia conference in Sydney, taking part in events with STEM practitioner Dr Kate Highfield and nature play expert Claire Warden.
“Outdoor play is essential for every child,” Ms McDonald said. “And children are the key focus for everything I do at the centre. The world is changing so much, parents are getting so busy, and children are often getting wrapped up in cotton wool.
“I believe we need to offer our children an environment where they are getting what they need which is a place where they can experience risky play, outdoor learning, and indulge their curiosity and problem solving skills.”
The centre will feature a fully qualified cook, tasked with focusing on providing healthy, nutritious food for the children, and the meal hub provides an area for socialisation during morning tea and lunchtimes.
A vegetable garden and “sensational” playground will also feature.
Ms McDonald said the focus on the STEM program at the centre would encourage children’s curiosity about the world around them and prepare them for the years ahead.
“They will help children develop strong skills and values that are useful later in life, such as problem-solving, communication, creativity and curiosity, and assist children to explore critical thinking, design, construction and problem solving."
And while Ms McDonald said she would miss her team at Nambour, the fact that the team were “exceeding” made it a good time to move on.
“They are all great and doing so well at the centre so I know I’m leaving it in good hands.”
The Goodstart Early Learning centre will be directly opposite the new Baringa Primary School, which also offers a STEM-focused curriculum.
Aura is the largest master-planned community in Australia under single ownership in Caloundra South on the Sunshine Coast.
Up to 10 families a week are moving into Baringa and construction has started on Aura Central, which will feature the city centre, the People’s Place parkland, a range of education and sporting facilities and a future employment precinct.
During the next 30 years, Aura will be home to about 50,000 people and is planned to include more than 20,000 new homes, two business parks, 10 sporting grounds, 25 community facilities, 20 school/education facilities, 700ha of conservation and park areas and 200km of cycle ways and walking paths.
Goodstart Early Learning is one of Australia’s largest not-for-profit social enterprises, with turnover exceeding $1 billion. Proceeds are reinvested into providing quality early learning and delivering our vision of giving Australia’s children the best possible start in life.