With all the talk about childcare, I just thought I’d share my sole experience with an ABC Learning centre. I was looking for a new childcare centre when we moved house. Our first centre was an on-campus community centre, and it was lovely – low ratios, caring staff, good continuity.
I dropped in on a local ABC childcare centre without calling first, to get a peek at what it was like. Reading this back, it sounds made up, but I swear this is exactly how it was. I was looking for the Candid Camera the whole time.
As I walked in, noting the good security (not surprising after they lost a kid elsewhere), I was hit by the stench of very old nappies and cheap toilet perfume. Not exactly inviting.
The younger children were sitting on a mat in the corner, being led by a carer in a slow, desultory chorus of – I shit thee not – “McDonald’s, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut. McDonald’s, McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut. The Pizza Hut, The Pizza Hut, Kentucky Fried Chicken and a Pizza Hut”. There were hand actions with the song, mimicking corporate logos.
The centre manager showed me the main activity area, and a computer on a desk that was available for the use of the older children. All the while, the Fast Food Song was echoing in the background in the voices of toddlers.
I was taken through to the outside area, where I saw that at least they had a mildly pleasant grassed area, and an interesting old concrete-pipe-and-hillock area that would be fun to play in and around. I wondered why the children were inside, when it was a lovely afternoon outside and the playground was empty. The manager interrupted my reverie, taking pains to explain that they were just about to Renovate! , taking out all the old grass (she wrinkled her nose in disgust) and put in nice new astroturf. She also hastened to explain that they would be removing the concrete pipe and hill area as soon as possible, because it was “too hard to supervise”.
At that point I escaped, never to return. We found another community centre.