A childcare centre set to open in the heart of Wagga is hoping to offer an alternative service in Wagga's tight early learning market.
Seedlings Early Learning Centre was approved for development at 133 Peter Street in April this year, and is hoping to open its doors by mid-2022.
The 60-place business is co-owned by Babies by the Bay Sydney childcare operators Ben Dransfield and Renee Humphry, and local educator Phoebe Christison.
The centre will be the fifth centre and first regional centre by the Sydney-based couple and is inspired by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy.
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Ms Christison said she was inspired to propose the joint venture when she realised the limited number of places for young babies at childcare services across the city.
"As a parent and teacher I have found there are not many zero to two year old spots in Wagga," she said.
"While we seem to have quite a good choice of childcare centres, with all three of my children it has come down to not where I want them to go but where I can get them in and a lot of parents I have spoken to have the same experience."
"Parents don't get to choose their ideal centre because there is a lengthy waitlist at most services in that age group - the early learning centres all say the baby rooms are full."
The shortage of childcare spots has seen several new childcare centres proposed for the wider Wagga area in recent months, including a 70-place centre proposed for Springvale.
Centrally-located Seedlings will include three large play rooms divided into ages zero to two, two to three and three to five. Two cot rooms will enable the centre to offer more spaces in the zero to two space.
They have also been approved for Saturday care which may be provided depending on demand.
Ms Christison said she hopes their capacity for more babies will give parents more options.
"We want to fill that gap and provide a community where parents feel like they're part of the plan," she said. "We focus on a gentle start in education for their children, that's really important to me as a mother."
The Reggio Emilia approach focuses on self-directed, hands-on learning, and is named for the Italian town where it developed after the Second World War.
The creative learning system is something co-owner Ben Dransfield is confident will provide a fresh option for Wagga parents.
"Our philosophy is based around Reggio Emilia," Mr Dransfield explained. "Some people think it's a bit like Montessori and it is in a way, but with some tweaks. There are lots of loose parts, a big focus on play and imagination.
"The children lead the program, and we try to focus on what they're interested in at any given time."
"This week [for example] they've seen lots of bees, so we've gotten pasta shells and the hot glue gun and they're making their own beehives. It's fun for them but they are learning a lot at the same time."
The new centre will be established in the existing dwelling-style structure at 133 Peter Street with renovations to convert the former office building into an early learning centre.
An atrium with a live tree inside the building will be preserved, and the centre plans to have a big focus on excursions to surrounding natural resources such as the Murrumbidgee River.
The cost of the development was estimated at $275,000 in development application documents.
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