The Learning Tree

History

The learning Tree childcare centre was opened in February 2004 funded by the Equal Opportunities Childcare Programme (EOCP) as part of the National development plan. We are a non-for profit centre, managed by a voluntary management board.

Aim

We aim to provide accessible, affordable, quality early education and care to all children and their families. Our mission statement and ethos are intrinsically linked and mirror our commitment to families that are engaged with our service to ensure each child is given ample opportunity to develop at their own pace. We ensure this through the provision of an appropriate curriculum that ensures for the holistic development of every child to include their mental and spiritual health. We aim to provide an environment that encourages children to express themselves freely and one which promotes an enthusiasm towards learning.

Our Programmes / Services – What we do?

Catering for up to 90 children we operate a baby room, a toddler room and a pre-school room. Our opening hours are from 8:30 – 5:30, catering for Children aged 4 months to 6 years in age. We offer an evidence based curriculum, Highscope, which is grounded in more than 40 years of research. This is explained in more detail below.

Our staff/child ratios well exceed the Pre-school Regulations 1996 which are 1:3 for the baby room, 1:5 for the Toddler room and 1:8 for the pre-school room.

At The Learning Tree Early Childhood Centre we have built our early childhood centre options to facilitate your individual needs. This means you have a choice between a full nine hour day, mornings or afternoons, sessional service or between 1 – 5 days depending on your needs. We also provide after-school care for children under six.

We are participating providers of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs offering various schemes which support parents back into education or employment by offering affordable quality subsidised education and care. Schemes include ECCE, CCS & CETS. For further information on the various schemes, see link.

A smaller outreach facility is operated at the community centre on St Catherine’s, Wetlands, Kilkenny. Our family support worker is the supervisor of the crèche facilities alongside her work with individual families. Group work with the women and men happens weekly where we facilitate activities such as bingo, flower arranging, nutrition and the importance of play. Past group work has included basketry, woodwork, arts & crafts etc…

Policies and Procedures

To comply with current legislation and maintain quality professional standards we have an extensive range of policies and procedures, which are available on request. These are reviewed and up-dated annually.

To view the policies please contact the manager,

  • Principles of good practice
  • Aims and Objectives
  • Action in the event of a Serious Accident/ Incident
  • Action taken in the event of an Emergency
  • Admission
  • Arrivals & departures
  • Settling in & use of waiting list
  • Illness/exclusion
  • Child welfare & protection reporting procedures
  • Child protection officerChild protection policy statementAnti bullying code
  • Complaints Procedure
  • Confidentiality & professionalism
  • Curriculum
  • Equality & Diversity
  • Fire Procedures
  • Health and Safety
  • Healthy eating
  • Outside Provision
  • Outings/excursions
  • Partnership with Parents
  • Personnel
  • In the Event of Staff Absences
  • Promoting Positive Behavior
  • Records Kept
  • Special Educational Needs
  • Sleep and Rest
  • Staff responsibilities, including health, safety and emergencies
  • Fee policy

Curriculum – our approach to working with children?

The Learning Tree Early Childhood Centre provides a secure base from which the children in our care can explore their environment. We teach children how to learn, giving them skills that will enable them to reach their full potential in becoming competent and confident learners and play partners.

The approach we take to working with children is that of the High/Scope curriculum. This is based on the theory that children learn by actively doing. We follow a holistic approach for the developmental learning programmer provided. Research has proven that children learn best through active experiences with the people they socialise with, the materials they encounter, events they become involved in and ideas they have, rather than through direct orchestrated teaching or sequenced exercises.

Our High/Scope practitioners are trained to participate as partners in children’s activities rather than relate to children primarily as supervisors. High/Scope training emphasizes positive interaction strategies: sharing control with children, focusing on children’s strengths, forming authentic relationships with children, supporting children’s play ideas, and adopting a problem-solving approach to social conflict

Ensuring quality through the implementation of Siolta…What is Siolta?

Our commitment to quality practices is on-going. We are currently nearing the end of a voluntary two year programme in Siolta, Irelands National Quality Assurance Framework, which involves a lot of reflection on our practice and showing concrete evidence of the way in which we work. Throughout this process we have been working closely with a Siolta Mentor on a monthly basis reviewing and further implementing good practice guidelines

Siolta is a set of national standards for Early Childhood Education involving a quality assurance programme (QAP) which is intended to provide support and guidance for all those working with, and on behalf, of children.

The framework is applicable to different types of childcare services working with children from 0-6 years.

It is a unifying Framework for the diverse range of Early Year’s provision in Ireland and different manuals are available for different types of settings:

  • Full and Part-time Daycare
  • Sessional Services
  • Infant Classes
  • Childminding

It is intended that Síolta can add value at many levels in practice situations.

For example as:

  • A support for individual professional practice and development
  • A focus for team work and team development
  • A tool for management, strategic planning and policy development

It is extremely important to us as practitioners that we approach Siolta & HighScope in an integrated way in order to have the best possible opportunity for successful implementation resulting in lasting quality. Through this integrated approach we offer children evidence based outcomes in various life skills that will carry them through to adulthood.

Infant mental health:

One of the integral parts of The Learning Tree Early Childhood Centre is the development of understanding and capacity in relation to Infant Mental Health. We as a service aim to support parents to focus on the social and emotional well-being of their babies/toddlers. This program is about raising parent’s awareness of how important the parent is in building a strong and resilient foundation of wellbeing through the relationships we can offer our children. Unfortunately our busy lifestyles sometimes mean that we just don’t have enough time in the day to spend real quality time with our young children. Our focus is in facilitating the space to enable this to happen.

To further ensure the delivery of a quality service we also operate a key worker system. This is where each practitioner is allocated a small number of children, usually 4-5. This enables the child and the adult to develop a close and secure attachment within the service which is critical for early development. Organising in this way also means that one practitioner has primary responsibility for gathering in-depth knowledge of the child, based on observation. They are also responsible for completing the child’s records complete portfolio of their time spent with us. The key worker is the first point of contact for the parent and child within the childs assigned room.

Services:

Schemes available to parents/carers:

1) ECCE – Free Pre-school. The Early Childhood Care & Education Scheme (ECCE) provides one year “free” Pre-school education to every child in Ireland aged between 3 years 2 months and 4 years 6 months on 1st September each year.

2) CCS – community childcare subvention scheme. The Community Childcare Subvention Scheme (CCSS) is a support scheme for community based services to provide quality childcare services at reduced rates to parents who are in receipt of any social welfare payment.

3) CETS – community employment training scheme. This scheme enables parents to free childcare for the duration of their FAS or VTOS course from September to June each year. This initiative is funded by the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

Opening times

We are open Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays), from 8:30am to 5:30 pm.

Fees

Because we operate three different schemes what you pay depends on your income, whether it be from social welfare or employment. To speak about fees and determine which band you fall under, please contact the Childcare manager or see the link for fees.

Our Team

The Learning Tree team consists of 18 early childhood practitioners with qualifications that range from Fetac level 5& 6 to degree level. Other qualifications include Highscope and first aid.

All employees attend a strict interview and reference procedure prior to employment and all practitioners have Garda clearance.

Catherine Lennon – Early Childhood Centre Manager

Christine Malone – Early Childhood Centre Supervisor

Jennie Cantwell – Family support worker & Early Childhood Supervisor of St Catherines outreach centre

Fiona Reddy – Room team leader

Nicola Comerford – Room team leader

Gillian Kelly – Emergency medical technician

Nora Allen – Early childhood practitioner

Bridget Hickey – Early childhood practitioner

Michelle Comerford – Early childhood practitioner

Catherine Phelan – Early childhood practitioner

Mags Malone – Early childhood practitioner

Karen Foran – Early childhood practitioner

Joan O’Dwyer – Early childhood practitioner

Siobhan Mahony – Early childhood practitioner

Tin Zar Win – Early childhood practitioner

Martina Clifford – Early childhood practitioner

Ciara Phelan – Early childhood practitioner

Cecilia Doyle – Early childhood practitioner

Florence Cullen – Early childhood practitioner

Grace Baker – Early childhood practitioner & facilitator of group work on St.Catherines Halting Site

Marie O’Reilly – Early childhood practitioner

Students

Student placements are considered providing they are studying relevant courses in early education and care, however it is to be noted that they are not included in staff ratio’s within rooms. The student’s goal is around gaining knowledge trough their work placement and identifying the connection between theory and practice. Students can be assured of a comprehensive, supportive and effective placement if accepted but should note that places are limited and generally in high demand. Applications should be made to the manager in writing.

Contact Us

We operate an open door policy, please feel free to drop into the Learning Tree at any time or call us at your convenience:

The Learning Tree Childcare Centre
Fr McGrath Family Resource Centre
St Josephs Road,
Kilkenny

056-7786961 Or 056-7751988 ext. 2

managerlearningtree@gmail.com