Three Trees opens Monday

by Mike Isle

Rolleston’s newest early childhood education centre is due to open next week, and already it is attracting attention for its innovative and holistic teaching approach.

The Three Trees Learning Centre, a 3,050 square metre complex located in Dynes Road next to Foster Park, received its Maori blessing and karakia last week and will open its doors for the first day of term next Monday.

There will be a public open day on Saturday, January 19. The centre will cater to children from 0 to 6 years of age. Jenny Tippet who along with business partner Libby Cunniffe is co-owner of Three Trees said the learning centre would be offering a uniquely holistic approach integrating the best learning practices and philosophies from New Zealand and overseas.

“Children at the centre will be able to explore and develop in a fun yet nurturing, environment with the freedom lead to their own learning through uninhibited discovery within an on-site forest and a strong outdoor focus,” she said.

“Children learn most effectively when connecting deeply with nature through play experiences.”

Mrs Tippet said the learning centre had been designed with the deliberate attention of capitalising on the pristine natural environment in which the centre is located.

Owners Libby (left) and Jenny (right) with Kim the centre manager and
previous landowner Ian Wilkins (pictured with spade) planting three
totara trees symbolising past present and future

The site was originally a hardwood forest, and many of the original trees have been retained, supplemented by extensive planting of New Zealand natives.

The forest theme permeates throughout the centre. Wood is the predominant material for the buildings and the inside and outside furniture. Colours are mostly natural wood tone, and even the building’s impressive eaves replicate a forest canopy.

“We resisted the temptation to have a large building on a shoebox-sized site. Rather we, want to surround the central building with a large footprint of carefully nurtured landscaping that offers both fun and a learning experience for our children.

“With Foster Park next door, a church over the back and birds singing everywhere it is simply stunning,” Mrs Tippet said.

Mrs Tippet said the learning centre would maintain small group sizes and a low teacher to student ratio. The centre is licensed to a maximum of 130 children, and Mrs Tippet said she and Libby Cunniffe had employed 17 fully qualified and registered teachers.

Three Trees would open on Monday with a roll of 95 — with a further 52 children on the waiting list, she said.

The open day on Saturday is from 9am to noon.