and after-school service is in St Lukes, on the northside of Cork City. Established in 1985, it is a non-profit making and community-oriented organisation delivering the full-range of childcare services. Wallaroo creates a supportive environment that encourages children’s capacities for trust, autonomy, initiative, empathy, and self-confidence. It has pioneered diversity and equality in Irish childcare programmes since 1985.
By creating physically and emotionally safe spaces where children, without exclusion, take precedence, and through a humanistic educational approach, Wallaroo works to empower children to recognise and express their emotions, think for themselves and make choices in their own lives.
At the base of our educational approach is a belief that children (all people really) must be given the respect due to them as individuals – with personal needs, interests, problems and desires. Differences in people are cherished. The curriculum evolves organically from the interests and needs expressed by the children. Teachers act as facilitators and guides. An important aim of Wallaroo Playschool is the sharing of knowledge, skills experiences and enthusiasms – this comes from both adults and children. This is a safe environment to make mistakes, change and grow. Competition is minimised and co-operation encouraged, creativity is fostered and curiosity supported.
Often in society children are prevented from discovering that they can think for themselves. At Wallaroo we work on the assumption that within the individual there is the ability to solve their own problems and conflicts. Non-authoritarian problem solving and reflective listening are an integral part of the learning process for everyone within this environment. Here adults do not set down mandates for children to obey, but rather strive to listen and use dialogue to find the root of the problem – and then work with the child to evolve ways to overcome it. Limits are needed, but they need to be mutually agreed upon, with no right or wrong judgements.
Wallaroo is receives funding grants from FAS, the Department of Health and Children and HSE Southern Region. These ensure that Wallaroo is accessible to a broad range of families.