The drive and vision for starting Once Upon A Time Kindy came from Director Tearza Stark who realised that many children are being “pushed and hurried” to develop skills and attend extracurricular activities in the name of academic preparations for school.
The unfortunate results were that many children had lost the ability to play, be creative, imaginative, create social and emotional competencies. Concerns about young children’s mental health and depression had started to appear in professional circles and neuroscience research papers.
At Once Upon a time, childhood is protected and cherished. The children are appreciated, respected, loved and supported to develop at their own pace. They are surrounded by guiding and inspiring adults who see the early childhood field as their career and mission.
Once Upon a Time opened its doors in 1998 to a first group of dedicated families. These were parents who sought alternative, creative and holistic care for their children. They found it in our beautiful oasis in Randwick, Sydney.
The Director and owner of the centre, Tearza Stark, had spent the prior decade teaching in different early childhood settings from a kibbutz kindergarten in Israel, to the Benevolent Society and private schools’ early childhood programs in Sydney.
Our educational philosophy is inspired by Rudolf Steiner, an Austrian philosopher, scientist, and educator. Steiner recognised the impact of early childhood on an individual’s consequent development and devised age-appropriate approaches for teaching.
His theory is now widely accepted and followed in many schools, kindergartens and educational centres worldwide. Steiner understood that the early childhood years are a vital foundation for a person’s life-long development. The goal he set was to help children develop as free, morally responsible, and integrated individuals equipped with a high degree of social skills and creativity.
Steiner believed that early emphasis on intellectualising the child with cognitive and analytical work robs energy needed for physical growth and development, a vital process inherent to early childhood.
For these reasons, our centre lets children be children. Our curriculum promotes imitative and imaginative play, social interaction, physical activity, and appreciation for beauty and nature.
These give children a strong sense of self and a foundation for later academic success by fostering sound logical reasoning, mental capabilities, and a reverence for life.
We are a team of professionally trained early childhood educators, deeply aware of the need to be positive role models for children who learn much through imitation. We model social and moral values and are consistent with our philosophy.
We show care, empathy and respect for children, families and each other. We spend much time deepening our knowledge, observing children and planning our activities in line with their developmental and emotional needs.
Our centre thrives on community spirit and involvement. We pride ourselves in having formed a rich and diverse community in which long-term friendships are formed and maintained well beyond the centre itself.
Our seasonal festivals are now famous traditions that attract children, parents and staff, who come together to celebrate, sing, perform and share lovely feasts. Parents also enjoy attending their children’s birthdays which are celebrated in our very special way.
Parental involvement in our curriculum and educational activities is encouraged and we also invite parents to practical seminars and workshops and to use our extensive reference library.