Children from Petit Early Learning in Marian, North Queensland got their hands a little dirtier than usual with a visit to the Mackay Natural Environment Centre. The excited group from Baby Boulevard (Nursery) and Treasure Cove (Kindy) enjoyed learning about different types of seeds, how plants grow and what they could do to care for their environment. Very keen to help, the busy little group planted four full trays of seeds in just 30 minutes.

Toni Breadsell, Centre Director at Petit Early Learning Marian, says the trip was one of many on the child care centre’s calendar as part of Petit’s holistic approach to children’s learning and development.

“We embed excursions into our program so our children learn about community, their environment and contributing to the world.”

Toni refers to the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) set out by the Australian Department of Education and Training, saying that, “Outcome two of the framework is all about children connecting with and contributing to their world. It talks about becoming socially responsible and showing respect for the environment.”

This group of under-fives has, in a small but impactful way, achieved the all of that and much more. The seeds they planted will grow into trees that will one day be used to revegetate areas of Mackay.

A spokesperson for the Environment Centre, run by Pioneer Catchment and Landcare Group, says visits like these help educate the next generation to become more environmentally conscious and pave the way for future sustainable practices.

Toni also pointed out that many of the children come from farming families.

“We live in a small community. Most of the children in our care come from cane farms, cattle farms or mining families. They already have an interest in their environment, so it’s only natural to expand on that where wherever we can.”

The trip to the Landcare centre served another purpose for the child care centre.

“We were trying to decide which types of native plants would be best to use in our outdoor area. We believe in providing natural playscapes for discovery and connection with nature. One of our lead educators had heard about the environment centre so we thought it would be a perfect opportunity to involve the children. Everyone learned together and brought back some beautiful native plants the children can now enjoy as they watch them grow.”

The children at Petit Early Learning regularly experience different aspects of their local area through excursions.

“Here at Marian,” Toni says, “We visit the library every week for ‘Toddler Time’ – a story and song program and we’ve taken a group to the local Post Office to send letters they had written to pen-pals.”

All Petit child care centres emphasise the importance of reaching out to organisations in their community.

“We have another visit to the Post Office coming up when we deliver care packages put together by the children and their parents. They contain non-perishable items and a letter of appreciation and are dispatched to Australian Defence Force personnel deployed on operations.”

By getting involved in activities beyond the child care centre, children learn how to embrace new ideas, people and places to make a difference in the lives of others — and learn new things along the way.

It’s not just excursions that bring these opportunities for learning and development. The core values of Petit Early Learning Journey are woven into every part of the day through high quality educational programs.

The centres offer:

  • A safe, respectful and compassionate environment
  • Support for each child’s social, emotional and cognitive development
  • An atmosphere that awakens the love of learning
  • A sense of wonder and uplifting of the spirit of the human imagination
  • A holistic approach including a connection of mind, body and spirit
  • Hope and wonder through an understanding and respect for the natural environment
  • A place where educators, children, families and parents work together
  • Heartfelt commitment to integrity and a deep caring for every child
  • Respect and value for individual differences and cultural diversity

It’s one thing to preach strong values, however it’s another to live them in every interaction. Daily activities are intended to extend, challenge and stimulate curiosity, while excursions offer an ideal way for children to safely step out into their world to engage and develop their social, emotional and cognitive skills.

Something as simple as planting seeds can teach children as to how one small action can make a big difference. As Paul Kelly’s famous song says, “From little things, big things grow.” Not only will the trees from those trays of seeds one day flourish, but so too, with love and guidance, will the children who planted them.

If you’d like to find out more about Petit’s unique early learning program, meet our team and check out our facilities, then we invite you to book a tour at a centre near you.