A group of parents whose children didn’t fit the mold of traditional education are taking matters into their own hands.
This week, an alternative, independent, secular long day care centre will throw open its doors at Legana to cater for children aged three to five whose parents are looking for something just a little bit different.
Patersonia is a community-based education facility, which will focus on sustainable learning opportunities for children based on real-world scenarios.
The long day care centre will operate Monday to Friday from facilities behind Legana Christian Church, which the group has leased from the church.
The driver behind the operation, Nicole Crook, said Patersonia emerged from her dissatisfaction with her own child’s experiences in the public system.
“My son, he got left behind,” she said.
Ms Crook said her son, who was diagnosed with dyslexia, didn’t have a positive experience in the public school system, because of his difficulties in learning to read.
“We actually took him out of school and he was home-schooled; there were no structures in place to teach him how to read, when he fell behind,” she said.
Despite having a negative experience with her son, Ms Crook said she didn’t have any problems with the public system, but realised that it doesn’t always work for everyone.
“I was never a hater of public school, I happily went to school and sent my own children to school,” she said.
Patersonia has started on its education journey with the early learning centre, aimed at children aged three to five, but will offer education programs for ages three to 12 in the future.
It aims to set up a primary school in the next couple of years, as an extension of the work done at the early learning centre.
Ms Crook said she wanted sustainability to be at the heart of what Patersonia does, and is looking for business or community groups to partner them.
Most of what we do is let children access resources and let them discover if themselves.Patersonia educator Niki Abel
Lessons for children in care at Patersonia could include excursions to community gardens, or to places such as aged care facilities and farms.
“We want the children to move about more by doing things rather than being in a classroom,” Ms Crook said.
Ms Crook said research had shown outdoor play not only had physical benefits but also mental ones, with active children developing more resilience.
However, she said Patersonia’s approach would be slightly different to similar “bush” or “forest” day care, which focuses solely on the outdoors.
Mostly, she said the philosophy was on children being encouraged to self-direct their learning in safe environments, to establish their passions early.
Ms Crook said children who were active participants in their own learning would take in and retain more information as they become more interested and engaged with what they were doing.
“We want to move away from the classroom-based institutionalised method of teaching,” she said.
To reach out to prospective parents, Patersonia has been running two playgroups, at Windsor Park and Trevallyn, ahead of the early learning centre’s opening.
Patersonia educator Niki Abel signed on to work at the early learning centre after inquiring about care for her son, Sebastian, 3.
“I was looking for alternative school options for my son, and I took him to the playgroup and I really loved the style of learning,” she said.
Mrs Abel had been an educator in Hobart for five years before she had her children and moved to Launceston.
She said the way educators treated children during the playgroup sessions “really resonated with me”.
“My main experience is that when you give children trust and respect to direct their learning they are more engaged,” she said.
“They learn why things are happening, not just that they are happening.”
Mrs Abel said in her experience telling children what to do never worked, which was at odds with traditional school-based learning models. Patersonia is working towards registration of a primary learning centre to open in 2020. Building on the early learning model, students’ individual interests and passions will contribute to their explorations.
Patersonia will officially open on September 3 but there are still places available. Patersonia is located behind Legana Christian Church, 1 Gerrard Cl, Legana. It will operate from 8am until 6pm on Monday to Friday.
Patersonia's early learning centre is a registered childcare centre and parents can access child care subsidy payments for eligible care. There are only 21 places.
- Contact Patersonia on email@example.com or visit www.patersonia.org