Preschool education blossoms

DUBBY HENRY
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2014
Blossoms
COMMUNITY-MINDED: From left: Blossoms Educare Papakura owners Baljit Grewal and Sarabjit Sidhu-Grewal, centre manager Netina Faumuina and assistant manager Kirat Dhillon

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It might be the new kid on the block but the Blossoms Educare early childhood centre is already making a difference.

Papakura and Takanini have some of the highest non-participation rates in early childhood education in New Zealand.

But Blossoms owners Sarabjit Sidhu-Grewal and Baljit Grewal have made it a point to help out parents and families in Papakura East by offering free or nearly-free childcare and preschool education.

Unlike many childcare centres, Blossoms often won't charge a premium over the 20 hours free provided by the Government for over-3s.

Extra hours and care for under-3s are also free if needed, especially for single parents and beneficiaries who are trying to get back into work, Mrs Sidhu-Grewal says.

"Working families are struggling and we want to support the wellbeing of the whole community."

They have lived in Papakura since 2005.

They already have three Blossoms centres in South Auckland but have always wanted a chance to serve their own community.

"It's multi-ethnic, there are different economic groups," she says.

"When we were thinking of names we thought of blossoming, budding learners, with various flowers making up a whole bouquet put together.

"Our policy is diversity - we don't cater to any one group."

Building was partly funded by the Ministry of Education's Targeted Assistance Programme which aims to improve access early childhood education in areas like Papakura East where attendance is low.

The curriculum promotes child-led play, families are encouraged to get involved and very few staff leave the centre.

And the hard work is paying off.

The preschool and daycare centre is full despite just opening in September.

Blossoms can take 60 children but it hopes to get resource consent to expand the roll to 70 children.

Mrs Sidhu-Grewal says they're "extremely proud that people are hearing about Blossoms and our reputation so that our centres are filling up so quickly after opening".

"It is proof that our children are happy learning and we are doing something right."

Call 298 1605 or email admin@blossoms educare.co.nz to find out more.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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