Early Learning Centre


at the YMCA Bishopdale Recreation Centre


We are currently in COVID-19 Alert Level 1. The following will apply if we are moved into Alert Level 2:

The YMCA Early Learning Centre remains open under Alert Level 2, please continue good hand hygiene practise by using the hand sanitiser provided, sign our contact register on each visit and use our QR Code to track your movements.
Join our Centre


Our children, parents and whanau come first and we strive to provide a welcoming, supportive and loving environment for all. We offer high teacher to child ratios with a fun, experienced and passionate team of early childhood teachers.

Our Nursery is licensed for 10 children under two years old, and our Preschool for up to 30 children. Our children are empowered to take risks, explore and develop their sense of belonging while making use of our spacious indoor and outdoor facilities.

To find out how you can join our YMCA family, contact us today and arrange a time to visit, or pop in if you are out and about.

We look forward to meeting you and your family and contributing to the magical memories that help shape your child into the superstar they are destined to become!


Opening Hours

Monday to Friday 8am – 4:30pm



Our Philosophy

We strive to work in collaborative relationships and partnership with whānau, sharing in the co-construction of an empowered community where we nurture a sense of security and ensure a child centred curriculum in a setting where tamariki come first. Our kaiako take pride in their professional role, responsibilities and commitment to the early childhood education sector.

We act with love, care and kindness as a foundation to our place (manaakitanga). We promote fun, spontaneous laughter and joy for ourselves and others. We acknowledge that we are all learners (kaiako, whānau and tamariki) and we aim to support one another in our journey. Respect for diversity and celebration of uniqueness and culture is a feature of our approach as we nurture every child to know that they are competent and capable. In order to support mana, identity and confidence kaiako are consistent, present in their interactions and relationships, enabling a sense of belonging and rich communication, conversations and collaboration in learning.

We believe in the value of a homelike environment for learning and we view the environment (places and things) as a partner in teaching and learning. We consider our play space as a platform for holistic and active learning therefore we plan for and provide a natural, responsive and creative setting. We keep tamariki safe while embracing elements of risk and challenge. We demonstrate our commitment to environmental sustainability and kaitiakitanga (guardianship) within our curriculum and in our daily practices.

The uniqueness of the child and all that they bring with them is at the heart of our curriculum design. We follow interests, engage in meaningful, real life experiences and relish the snowball effect of questioning and investigating at an unhurried and natural pace. We scaffold learning, pay attention to ensure tamariki are not only learning, but they are learning about how they learn and we celebrate our successes.

We know that when we facilitate learning and provide time and space for supported independence, tamariki develop an intrinsic sense of themselves as capable and confident learners. When we listen and are responsive to tamariki, they learn that they are important, they grow in confidence. Showing understanding and care nurtures emotional intelligence and empathy, being consistent, predictable and patient nurtures self regulation. This is how we support the wellbeing and and wairua of our tamariki and grow healthy, happy, capable and confident tamariki.

April 2019


Mind Body Spirit

Our weekly Mind Body Spirit programme is unique to the YMCA Early Learning Centre.
We are able to utilise all the facilities we have onsite at the YMCA Recreation Centre, which provide your children recreational opportunities not normally and routinely available at other Centres.

Every week we run gymnastics in our spacious stadium, play ripper rugby at the adjoining park, and have dance in our dance studio, all at no extra charge! Enquire with us about which days these programmes run on.


Our Team

Janene Prendergast
I have been working in early childhood since 2002, graduating from the University of Canterbury with a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) in 2007. Since then I have held both team leader in the nursery, over two classes and Centre Manager roles.
I hold a sound, up-to-date knowledge of how children learn and develop. I trust and empower our teaching team to continually work together to develop meaningful partnerships with each other and you, our parents and whānau. I am committed to providing quality care and education in a fun and stimulating environment which promotes continuous improvement for children to succeed in a forever changing world.


Laurelle Whitwell
Assistant Manager
Kia ora! I have been working in early childhood for 13 years and have worked with all ages. There is nothing that quite beats the feeling of supporting our tamariki as they discover the world around them. I enjoy supporting tamariki to learn and build knowledge by using play and their interests as a vessel for learning. I love to use open-ended, natural resources that allow tamariki to extend their imagination and creative skills. I grew up rurally so have a passion for ensuring that our tamariki get to explore and connect with nature as much as possible!


Mel Gebbie
I have been teaching for nearly 14 years now, and have loved every moment. My favourite things to do with ngā tamariki/the children are to read books, dance and create awesome things with Lego. In my personal life, my favourite things to do are to sew myself something fabulous to wear, read books and go out on the water with my paddleboard.
When supporting your tamariki to grow and learn, I will be encouraging them to try their best at a variety of activities and experiences. I will get to know them each as individuals and recognise the uniqueness that each one possesses. I am very excited to get to know ngā tamariki and their whānau and I can’t wait for the exciting times ahead.


Amanda Calvert
I started teaching because I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. I am very passionate about what I do and believe that a child’s first five years are so incredibly important – not only for brain development but also social skills and emotional resilience. I am a big advocate for free play as I think this is where children do so much of their learning.
I also really enjoy the Intentional Teaching Strategy as it means that children are discovering more about what they are interested in. It is very rewarding when you are able to extend a child’s knowledge on a topic they are excited about!


Annie Zhong
In 2006 I immigrated to Christchurch from Guangzhou, China. I have a NZ graduate diploma in teaching and learning in both primary and early childhood education, and I also have over 9 years of experience working with children under 3 years. I’m passionate about working with young children and regard it as a dream job! I value family cultures and values, and I see working in partnership with parents and whanau as vital to children’s learning and development. I believe that children learn by actively engaging in the learning environment and through responsive and reciprocal relationships and interactions. Therefore I endeavor to provide a welcoming, respectful, inviting and stimulating environment for our children to explore at their own pace. I live with my husband Jonny, and in my spare time I like playing badminton, walking, exploring new technology, and learning new concepts, ideas and languages.



Fantastic home away from home Early Learning Centre. Kind, caring qualified teachers who know your child well and cater to their needs. Small numbers, so children get lots of quality care and play-based learning experiences. Many community outings to the library and nearby playgrounds.
Able to use the facilities and instructors at the YMCA . Great to be able to take part in gymnastics, ripper rugby and many other confidence boosting activities, or just have a run and play in the gym on a cold, wet day.
Children can help with food preparation and get many opportunities for messy play and exploration. The Centre encourages theme days (discos, wheels day, Matariki), where children can dress up or bring something from home.

Helen Johnson
Where to even start! The Y is simply incredible and our kids have been so lucky to have the most amazing experiences – soccer and ripper rugby, dance class, gymnastics and visits to the library. All regular (most weekly) and it makes this such a unique ECE. It’s completely unheard of anywhere else.
Our son is now at school, but he thrived with soccer on Wednesdays with Paul. Our 3 year old loves visiting the library, baking and seeing Michaela for dance. She’s also gained so much confidence at the Tuesday gymnastics sessions.
I really can’t sing the Y’s praises enough – truly. The teachers really care and they are an extension of our family.

Fallon King


I can’t recommend this nursery and preschool enough! Their amazing teachers create a nurturing, respectful, diverse, imaginative environment for every child (and their family). Our son loves being part of this tamariki and the wide range of activities they get up to. The teachers’ focus on meeting the individual child at his/hers level and supporting their cognitive, social and behavioral development in a positive and kind manner that is truly heartwarming. The fact that the children regularly get to use many of the YMCA’s facilities for gymnastics, dance, yoga, football etc is an added bonus!
Lena Reid
I absolutely love YMCA Early Learning Centre, and recommend it to everyone I know. The teachers are so caring and supportive. My daughter who is very shy has come out of her shell so much since starting here. It was stressful finding a new kindy when we moved to Christchurch but everyone here has become like family, highly recommend!
Louwren Kloppers
My two children are quite new to the YMCA Early Learning Centre, but already I have noticed how much their holistic development and all around social growth has improved. They are so comfortable with their new learning environment, they have endless stories, the teachers are bubbly and outgoing, and I have noticed them coming down to the children’s level – which is beautiful to see.
After previous preschool experiences, I would highly recommend the YMCA Early Learning Centre.

Emily Callaghan


Latest ERO Report

ERO Report


Come Visit Us

You’re welcome to drop into our Centre for a tour at any time or you can fill in the form below and book in a time that works for you.

Enquire Here    




P 03 359 8320  E ece@ymcachch.org.nz

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