Whānau | Family profiles
Aisha and Omar's story
Coming to New Zealand from Pakistan, PhD student Aisha Rajper knew little about the support and childcare options available to her. Three-year-old Omar spoke very little English and Aisha was concerned about placing him in a large childcare centre where he might feel overwhelmed and lost.
At her first meeting with head teacher Ruth, Aisha found the multi-culturalism of the Centre’s staff and children comforting. “I had been to visit a few other childhood centres and felt they were too materialistic. Everything at ECLC was practical and the teachers responded to their children with so much love and care”.
The Centre’s early opening hours and location meant Aisha could drop Omar off early in the morning and balance her fulltime studies with work and research commitments. Because Aisha is an international PhD student, Omar also qualified for ECE funding. After eighteen months, Omar is nearly fluent in English, and Aisha praises the teachers’ patience and consistency in working with him each day.
“Omar has really enjoyed picking up Kiwi habits” Aisha says, “I wanted him to feel part of New Zealand culture while still retaining his identity and heritage and the teachers at the Centre have done this perfectly. They helped him settle and overcome what was a huge period of upheaval in his life. He has learnt so many new and wonderful things and his English improves every day. The inclusion you feel with the teachers at the Centre is remarkable. They communicate so well with you about everything.”
Omar is now in the preparatory phase for the transition to primary school and Aisha credits ECLC with helping them prepare for this next chapter. “We will both really miss the teachers at ECLC, they’ve become an integral part of our daily life but I know they have prepared Omar so well for his next step in education”.
The Mencls Family
Originally from the Czech Republic, the Mencls family have spent nine years at UC, and their two children have been part of the Early Childhood Learning Centre for four.
Andrea Menclova is a Senior Lecturer in Economics here at UC and mother to Eliska (4 years) and Vitek (2 years). While looking for childcare options, Andrea had consulted colleagues with children in ECLC care and was amazed by their positivity. “Everyone I had spoken to only had good things to say about ECLC”.
ECLC’s location on campus allowed Andrea to continue nursing her children when she returned to work. “Having the ability to walk over and see them during the day means a lot to us”.
Andrea and her husband enjoy reading the ECLC’s online newsletters and the kids' learning journals. They feel involved in Vitek and Eliska’s progress and have felt supported through each transition at the Centre.
"Over the years, the teachers at ECLC have always been there for us through the ‘good and bad’ - through first steps, first words, the announcement of a sibling on the way, the first birthday candle... and also teething, sleep deprivation, panic attacks at work, and initial tantrums. In all those situations, the teachers have approached us and both of our children with patience, enthusiasm, understanding, and gentle humour... their smiles never felt fake or 'part of their job description”.
The Baker Family
Hailing from California in the United States of America, the Baker family are currently at UC on a year-long Engineering placement with the Erskine Fellowship. Two year old Alana and four year old Leo are both at ECLC and have settled into life in New Zealand brilliantly.
Mother Kara heard about ECLC from colleagues who had completed the Erskine programme previously and highly recommended the Centre. “Leo and Alana were in a great preschool at home so finding somewhere which had a similar philosophy was really important to us”. The Centre’s focus on creative free play meant Leo and Alana were able to slide into an environment which was similar to where they had been, and Kara credits the role of each child’s primary caregiver in helping with this. “Primary caregiving was new to us as our previous preschool was a co-op, meaning there were fulltime teachers but also parent volunteers. Primary caregiving is such a great concept and we felt really supported in settling here and loved that our children could form a strong connection with their teachers”.
Making the most of traveling during their stay in New Zealand, the Baker family have also enjoyed the Centre’s flexibility and focus on keeping the children’s needs as the number one priority. “We had originally planned Alana’s transition into the over 2s unit before Christmas, however we were using the break to travel extensively and upon our return the teachers suggested waiting a few weeks until Alana was back in her normal routine so she felt more settled with the transition. We really appreciated not having to rush – ECLC truly do things that are best for the child, not for them. We really love this about the Centre.”
Geoff, Sam and Leo Ford
As a political science PhD student and father to one-year-old Leo, Geoffrey Ford knew juggling study with family was going to require a supportive and convenient child care option.
Geoffrey’s first contact with the teachers at ECLC left him feeling at ease. “I had heard good things about the Centre and how the teachers interacted with the children, and then when we first went to visit we felt connected straight away.”
“The Centre itself is host to the most amazing teachers. We have learnt so much through our interaction with Leo’s primary caregivers and have felt hugely involved in everything he does each day. The support you receive absolutely makes all the difference, and every day when we leave Leo there we feel that he’s safe and extremely well cared for”.
The location of ECLC was particularly important for Geoffrey and wife Sam. Sam works 25 minutes away, but Geoffrey can access Leo in just a few steps. When dropping Leo off in the morning, the proximity of Geoffrey’s office means there’s no need to rush and he can spend as much time as Leo needs to feel settled and content. Geoffrey will often pick Leo up early when the weather is nice to enjoy a stroll through the campus gardens or an ice block in the sunshine.