Kindy calls it a play
AFTER 37 years, the Riverton-Willetton Kindergarten has packed up the play-doh and paint brushes for the last time.
What initially started as an off-the-cuff joke turned into a source of love and education for local children for nearly four decades.
Due to a lack of other day care and kindergarten options in the area in the early ’80s, founder Alan Phillips’ wife Anne joked they should start their own.
The joke turned into a reality and became their life, as the pair even owned the land behind the kindergarten at one stage and built a house on the block.
Mr Phillips recalled the kindergarten’s beginnings fondly, as 100 people enrolled on day one due to a dearth of options in the local area.
“The building lent itself to children because it had big spaces, was open, had good light and had a very big garden,” he said.
“Since early 1982 it’s fed itself off its reputation because of the quality of the service.”
A large part of that service was provided by Anne, who worked at the kindergarten until she died in 2012.
“Anne was an outstanding person, very open to all people, very good with cooking. There was always stuff happening in the kitchen and she was a musician and an artist,” Mr Phillips said.
“She was such an open, welcoming woman; she would listen to young mothers bringing their child in, work with parents who were concerned about their child and was good at referring children’s mothers to services that could help them in their growth.”
Despite daycares and kindergartens moving towards more education orientated regimes, Mr Phillips said he believed they had been successful because they had a playbased but still educational focus.
“There’s been a recent move towards regimenting children and getting them into school early, building into NAPLAN, and good educators have observed that’s inappropriate when you get a three or four-yearold,” he said.
“This has always been an education-based child development centre and focused on creativity, music, art, communication.”
Mr Phillips said although it had been an emotional farewell, the time felt right to close his long-time business.
“I’m too old to maintain the building; it’s still very viable, I just decided it’s time for a change,” he said.
He said there were more choices available now.
Genevieve Brennan, kindy teacher Rhonda Phillips (no relation to Alan), Alan Phillips, kindy director Alice and Daniel Brennan.