IN FOCUS: Engaging Melton children in early learning

Gabriela, Tenishia, Winnifred and Theodore with fresh eggs. (Pictures: Joe Mastroianni)

By Carole Levy

When Michelle Clarke and her husband Dean, took over as new owners of the Early Learning Kinders childcare centres in Melton and Melton South, their aim was to engage children in a love of learning, in a safe and welcoming environment.

Both centres now offer families learning programs that are guided by the child’s interests, and extended by an events calendar which includes a range of excursions, incursions, community events, and cultural celebrations throughout the year to facilitate an inclusive understanding of the wider world.

The centres are overseen by two passionate and well experienced centre managers, with Katrina DeGruyther heading up the centre in Coburns Road, while Amy Stewart leads the centre in Unitt Street.

Katrina says both centres take a proactive approach to community engagement, designed to give children great learning experiences and allow the community to see dynamic childcare in action.

“We recently took the children to a Welcome to Country event held at council offices,” Amy says. “The children loved it. It was a wonderful chance for them to see other ways of doing things and they were very excited to get a pot plant to take back to the centre to plant and watch grow. It now has pride of place in our foyer.”

“The children will also be involved in this year’s Djerriwarrh Festival, marching in the parade in front of townspeople and families. This nurtures a real sense of belonging and provides possibly their first taste of being an integral part of Melton’s rhythms.”

The Unitt Street centre, which is opposite St Dominic’s has great spaces including a chook house and a vegie and herb garden.

“Our children check and collect the eggs themselves daily, placing them in a basket for families to take home,” Amy says. “This teaches them about the value of caring for animals, as well as demonstrates generosity.”

The Coburns Road centre also enjoys a large natural environment with lots of trees and open space in which to play and explore.

As sister centres, both share the same philosophies, with flexible session hours, to deliver quality care and education for children aged six weeks to six years, including a fully accredited kindergarten program at each centre. Healthy and nutritious meals are prepared daily.

“Next time you see a conga line of children walking the streets of Melton, they could well be ours,” Katrina says.

It’s all about a well-rounded education, having fun and sharing in new experiences at our centres.”


Melton Early Learning Kinders, 31-33 Unitt Street. Opens 6.45am-6.15pm. Inquiries: 9746 7008. Melton South Early Learning Kinders, 46 Coburns Road. Opens 6.30am-6.15pm. Inquiries: 9746 0388.


Gabriela and Tenishia visit the chickens. (Pictures: Joe Mastroianni)