ECEC Provider in Focus: Barefoot Early Childhood
The Sector > Practice > Long Day Care > ECEC Provider in Focus: Barefoot Early Childhood

ECEC Provider in Focus: Barefoot Early Childhood

by Freya Lucas

October 27, 2023

Barefoot Early Childhood is a 50-place, family-owned single-site long day care service in Dayboro, Queensland, which has moved its National Quality Standard (NQS) rating from Working Towards to Exceeding. 


What is the history of Barefoot Early Childhood? 


Service approval was granted in June, 2011, and the service was transferred to the current owners in January 2017. An assessment and rating visit was conducted in November 2018, at which time the service and its practices were rated as Exceeding the NQS. 


What is the Barefoot Early Childhood vision and approach to early learning? 


‘Heart centred’ care and education is pivotal to the operation of the service, which is led by ‘Mother Hen’ owner and operator Nicole Duncombe, who has held management positions in the early learning sector for more than 20 years, and who describes herself as someone who is passionate about children’s wellbeing at all levels. 


“I believe Barefoot role-models a different, more thoughtful and heartfelt way of practicing child care and education. As I watch our children thriving daily, my hope is that one day all children will benefit from a more thoughtful industry (sic.),” she said. 


‘Connection to earth’, ‘connection to self’ and ‘connection to others’ are the three pillars of the Barefoot approach, which seeks to “offer a return to the simple joys of childhood past” and to offer an approach which is “simple, organic and connected”.


What is Barefoot Early Childhood’s approach to educators’ identity and development?


The service has adopted a primary caregiver approach to allow educators to build significant bonds with children and families. 


Educators are encouraged to be fully present for children, and to observe and respond to their cues and gestures, facilitating exploration and creating a sense of belonging. 


“Our educator’s well-being, professional development and family needs are well supported to ensure that they can always offer our children 100 per cent care and attention,” Ms Duncombe notes.  


“We value our educators as Barefoot’s most important asset and treat them as such. Barefoot consistently invests in its educators professional development and are recognised within the industry for our progressive approach to early childhood education and care.”


Are there any unique aspects to the Barefoot Early Childhood offer?


Set on over an acre of land, the Barefoot play spaces aim to offer a return to “the original childhood wonderland”. 


The service has a pony, a goat, a farmyard with chickens, a number of treehouses, a creek bed, a mud pit, fruit trees, a kitchen garden, a native beehive and ‘wild spaces’ for exploring. 


Children are encouraged to follow their own routines for eating and sleeping, and there are no set meal or rest times. 


“We believe the world needs artists, musicians and humanitarians as well as academics, so we provide a wide range of experiences to allow children to express their intelligence in their own unique way,” Ms Duncombe explained.  


“We offer a resident artist program, musical program, daily yoga and animal experiences as part of our everyday curriculum.”


Learn more about Barefoot Early Childhood here. 

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