When I met Caroline at a childcare related course I knew I’d enjoy a visit to her facility. She always spoke of her working day with joy, fun and genuine concern for the kids in her care.
Kilnamona is a rural community in Co Clare, 9 km from Ennis and 20 km from the West Coast. I have fond memories of Kilnamona as I spent many days and nights with my cousins and Aunt & Uncle at their home and farm. I smiled as I drove past a stream where we used to collect water and remembered how we lost a cow down a lane which I was supposed to be blocking. I was an unhelpful addition to our little crew at times!
I hadn’t been to the heart of the community for a long number of years, which consists of a church, primary school and community centre (built in 1995). The crossroad is lovely and wide and features plenty of well kept parking spaces.
A driveway between the school and the church brings you to the community centre which is tucked away safely among green fields… what a beautiful view to enjoy every day.
In through the double doors were walls covered in lovely artwork and child-height coat hooks to keep their outdoor wear organised. As I entered a room which is attached to the edge of a large indoor sports hall, I was greeted with such a lovely, homely and comfortable preschool room.
Lots of preschools strive to have a feeling of homeliness in their facility but Mini’s exudes this with apparent effortlessness. Their furnishings and set up of the room along with the relaxed but busy atmosphere (busyness just can’t be avoided when there are 3 and 4 year olds involved!) make for a comfortable visit for me and of course for the children who come every day.
With the help of a very handy parent (every preschool should have one!), Caroline has a timber faux fireplace with a mantelpiece, a real grate and actual timber pieces in it. This cosy corner is completed with two comfy armchairs adorned with brightly coloured throws and cushions. How charming! I couldn’t stop looking at it and of course I didn’t leave without taking a seat.
The room also had a nicely messed up and well used art area, and little areas for puzzles, table top activities, construction and a realistic farm as part of their small world fun. There are various inspirational and encouraging quotes dotted around the room in the form of posters, pictures and wooden plaques.
The children at Mini’s have easy access to a nicely sized sports hall (which is also used at times by the local school children) and a safely fenced in outdoor area which in turn is attached a large field with a fine set of goals.. very inviting!
During my visit the children were excited to run off steam in the hall and eager to show me just how fast they could run. After much discussion and examining of shoes, it was my duty to try to catch them. Gee, they really were fast. I caught up with one or two, but I have a feeling that they let me win! I was shown up by these little people who were much fitter than me.
This was no surprise really, as there is an obvious emphasis on the healthy well being of the children at Mini’s both emotionally and physically. The children are well aware of their feelings and have a ‘Feelings Wall’ to help them verbalise these. Caroline encourages the children on an almost daily basis to think about what they are grateful for in their lives as they sit around a safely guarded lighting candle… a great start to becoming a mindful person.
When it was time to wash up their hands before lunch, the boys were happy to wait to let the ladies go first (how sweet!). They then sat at the lunch table and were well aware, and proud, of the healthy choices that were made when preparing their food at home. A relaxed chit chat at the lunch table showed the rapport that the children have with Caroline and displayed a mutual respect.
What a lovely visit I had at Mini’s preschool. Thank you for having me!