We cater for children aged three years and over, who are ready from a social and independent toilet training perspective to spend time at pre-school.
Researchers have discovered that the human brain develops the vast majority of its neurons, and is at its most receptive to learning, between birth and five years of age. In fact, the intake of new information is critical to the formation of active neural pathways (Shonkoff & Phillips, 2000).
Early education can play a critical role during this important developmental period. The research linking early learning experiences to both cognitive and socio-emotional gains has had a huge effect on the amount of early childhood programs and services offered to families of young children around the world.
Our educational approach is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy, providing an innovative and inspiring approach to early childhood education and values the child as strong, capable, and resilient; rich with wonder and knowledge. The Reggio Emilia approach has been adopted because we believe that children are motivated by their interests to understand and know more. Our role as educators is to observe our children, listen to their questions and their experiences, find what interests them, and then provide them with opportunities to explore these interests further.
The Reggio Emilia philosophy also takes a child-led project approach. The projects aren’t planned in advance; they emerge based on the child’s interests. Children at our ELC may be involved in individual, small group, or large projects.
At Westminster ELC we provide an education program in a dedicated preschool setting, catering for children aged between three and five years of age. Our program is based on the developmental needs, interests, and experience of each child and guided by a national framework, Being Belonging Becoming. In addition to a play-based curriculum, ELC students are also involved in:
Westminster School ELC is an approved child care provider which means that Westminster families may be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy (CCS) in relation to their costs for using our ELC. It is important to note that the Child Care Subsidy is based on family income.
It is the responsibility of the parent to register for the Child Care Subsidy. Information and forms can be accessed from the Family Assistance Office (through Centrelink), or families can call direct on 136 150. Alternatively, to find out more about the Child Care Subsidy please visit education.gov.au/childcare It is imperative that all families with children attending the ELC provide their Parent Reference Number, Birth Dates, and Child CRN to receive the rebate on fees.
The Early Learning Centre operates from 7.30 am to 6.00 pm. The ELC children may attend the program between these hours from Monday to Friday for 48 weeks of the year. The ELC closes for four weeks over the Christmas and New Year period.
The minimum booked attendance in the ELC is two days per week. Students are allowed 42 absent days per financial year while still receiving their Government Subsidy payments. Families exceeding the 42 absent days within any financial year will not receive their payments, once the 42 days have been used. Any absences due to sickness, where a doctor's certificate is supplied, will not be counted in the 42 'allowable absence' days provided per annual year. If your child is away due to sickness and you visit a doctor, please ask for a certificate and provide it to one of the ELC staff so that a record of medically approved days of leave is maintained.
The following timetable provides an insight of our ELC program which varies from day to day:
7.30 - 9.00 am - Before preschool program
Lesson 1 - Sport/Outside Play
Lesson 2 - Music/Inside Play
10.40 - 10.55 am - Morning Tea
Lesson 3 - Literacy Group time/Farm visit
Lesson 4 - Inside Play and Socialisation Program with Centre Director
12.25 - 1.30 pm - Lunch and rest time
Lesson 5 - Inside/Outside Play
Lesson 6 - Numeracy Group time
3.00 - 3.30 pm - Afternoon Tea
3.30 - 6.00 pm - After Preschool Program
Our ELC receives a high volume of enquiries and applications, and as such, our current ELC families are required to give 12 months’ notice to change bookings between the two-day, three-day and five-day programs.
As the ELC is an important part of Westminster School, students have access to a wide range of appropriate facilities. These include the Haslam Library, the Forder Centre for sport, and visits to the on-site School farm.
ELC students are provided with specialist experiences in the areas of Music, Physical Education, and Library. Our Music program is conducted by specialist music teachers, and includes singing, creative movement, use of percussion instruments and listening for appreciation. ELC students also visit the Haslam Library each week. Their experiences focus on how the library operates, the enjoyment of reading a wide variety of literature, and the exploration of authors and illustrators. Our Physical Education program aims to encourage the children to gain confidence in their ability to engage in physical activities, and to develop gross motor skills and co-ordination skills. The activities involved in the program include balancing, jumping, throwing, catching, hitting, kicking, climbing, and obstacle circuits. Art education and Information Technologies also form an integral part of the ELC curriculum.
Licensing requirements specify a ratio of 1 adult to 11 children. However, our Early Learning Centre generally operates on a ratio of 1:7, meaning that for every seven children there is a qualified staff member. Other Westminster specialist staff, such as our Music, Library, and PE teachers, also support the learning program in various ways. This integration assists in making a smooth transition for children leaving the ELC, and entering their first year of schooling.
We are very fortunate to employ eight fully qualified teachers in the Westminster ELC. Our ELC Assistants also have either a Certificate 3 in Education and Care, Certificate 4 in Education and Care, or a Diploma of Education and Care.
We believe our program strength lies in the expertise, dedication and commitment of our staff. We support our staff with professional learning, resources, and opportunities to create a unique and meaningful learning experience for the children.
Students attending the Westminster ELC are provided with a nutritious snack, morning tea, lunch, and afternoon tea as a part of their daily routine.
The Westminster Early Learning Centre is located securely within the grounds of Westminster School at Alison Avenue, Marion. It is a part of the Junior Primary area of our School, and parking within the School grounds is available for parents, for ease of drop-off and pick-up.
The ELC uniform is the same as the Westminster Preparatory School sports uniform - a combination of shorts, shirt, tracksuit, and rugby jacket all designed for children to be active, warm, and comfortable. Children can continue to wear this uniform for sport once they start their schooling.
We appreciate the importance of starting school when your child is ready. The first year of full-time school is called Reception. Children who turn five years of age before the end of June are able to start in Reception at the beginning of Term 1 (late January). Children who turn five years of age in the second half of the year are also catered for with our Transition class which runs for Terms 3 and 4. This is a class for children of this age to help them get established in the routines of full-time school before entering Reception the following year. Our ELC and Junior Primary staff are more than happy to work with parents to determine the most appropriate time for their child to start school in Transition or Reception at Westminster.