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French teacher Sabine Desmond with Felicity Bosnich (3), Sebastian Parry (3) and James Lilly (3). MercyCare’s Early Learning Centre in Wembley is offering free French and Mandarin classes for one and two-year-olds.

YOGA, personal trainers and French and Mandarin classes are just some of the classes being offered at WA’s new-look childcare centres.

Others are taking children on excursions to local libraries, theatre groups or cafes so they learn how to behave in real-world settings.

There’s also a big shift towards focusing on sustainability, the environment and “not wrapping children in cotton wool”, with less plastic and metal and more natural play areas and vegetable gardens the aim.

Edith Cowan University Centre for Research in Early Childhood director Caroline Barratt-Pugh said childcare providers were focusing more on developing children’s resilience and promoting diversity.

“We know some centres are doing very interesting things, like yoga, to promote relaxation, physical fun and resilience, ” Dr Barratt-Pugh said.

“We’ve also seen music specialists brought in to develop creative movement, listening skills and a love of music as well as social skills like collaboration.”

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Dr Barratt-Pugh said not all parents could afford specialist programs and argued centres needed to ensure the fundamentals were still part of the early childhood curriculum.

Sustainable: Yoga instructor Robyn Kop with Amelia Stone, 3, Tia Bell, 4 and Beth Lockley, 3, at the Milligan House Child Care Centre in Bunbury. Picture: Ross Swanborough

Experts have noted big childcare changes in the past five years, following the introduction of national regulations, the Early Years Learning Framework and the National Quality Standards.

Dawson Ruhl, chief executive of early childhood education support agency Child Australia, said the regulations had led to an increase in qualifications across the sector and a focus on “play-based” learning. There was also less emphasis on getting children to meet ability checklists and more on letting them develop at their own pace.

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Related facts

  • TeacherCare is a national agency that places private childcare teachers and educators in family homes for care, child development and education. TeacherCaregivers provide learning services including: nanny agencies, babysitting services, tutoring, and daycare...
  • Maranatha Care Children is a non-profit charity (Charity No: XT18766) aiming to help South African children by offering development in education and life skills, providing suitable home environments and safeguarding the futures of those in care.
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