Kindy calls it a play

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Ben Smith

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.

Pic­ture: Bruce Hunt www.com­mu­ni­typix.com.au d489595

Genevieve Bren­nan, kindy teacher Rhonda Phillips (no re­la­tion to Alan), Alan Phillips, kindy di­rec­tor Alice and Daniel Bren­nan.

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