About Us

Sunnybank is a place where numerous little persons over the years have learned to take the first steps into a bigger world than just home. They become confident to venture from here to “big school”. The institution was established in May 1974 under the supervision of Mrs Bee Elliot and Mrs Renee Schwikkard and soon had ± 30 children, most of whom were full day children. Granny Rynan (Renee’s elderly mum) had a small flat here and cared for the very early children. She sat with them whilst they built puzzles and if they had built 2 or 3 puzzles before going out to play they got a sweet!

In 1978 Bee left Newcastle and Liz van Niekerk (who was already working at the school) and Yvonne Glasspool (who would later become principal) purchased a quarter share each in Sunnybank and continued it’s “good work”.

At that stage the school catered for about 50 children. After 30 years of service to Sunnybank in 2007 Yvonne Glasspool sold Sunnybank and went on a well deserved pension. Since January 2008 Sunnybank has been owned and run by Mandy van Staden and learner numbers increased significantly. In January 2012 we became the official English feeder school for Huttenpark Primary School and our Grade R classes are part of Huttenpark. We incorporated the Huttenpark Pre-Primary Grade R and Family classes. We now accommodate 150 2-6 year olds in 8 classes and in 3 separate play areas.

Sunnybank has always given children good grounding in preparation for Grade 1. Over the years we have seen many Sunnybankers who are now parents, businessmen and women bring their own children to Sunnybank because they remember their time here with happiness.

The Staff

We are very blessed with our staff who are conscientious at all times in their designated tasks and our teachers are all very loving, caring and dedicated to the task they have in preparing the children to eventually go into Grade 1 and indeed into the wider world.
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Currently the staff members are:

Principal Mandy van Staden Secretary Jeanne de Heer
Elephants Charmaine Swanepoel Giraffes Mijlka Egan
Zebras Sandy Olfin Tigers Alison Vrey
Ducks Janine Louw Mice Chantell Joubert
Ants Sarah Kriek Bees Kim McArthur
Teachers Assistants Cathleen de Jager Kitchen Martha
Lindsay McArthur Cleaners & Caregivers Sibongile Mbatha
Magdelè Chowels Linda Ndebele
 Bronwyn Anderson Jane Thwala
 Natasha Kay Gugu Manyoni
 Keren Headley Aftercare Teachers
Garden Manny Mlotshwa General Maintenance Zarius van Staden
Sizwe Molefe

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Buildings

To start with, Sunnybank had only the main building which was built as a play centre, with ample space inside, a convenient veranda, sufficient toilet facilities, a kitchen and pantry, the office, as well as a small room, shower and toilet. It now accommodates the Bees, Ants and Mice Classes. The house currently used as classrooms for the Zebras, Tigers, Giraffes and Elephants was René’s house. In December 2011 the Duck Class was added, as well a reception area.

Playground

It used to be veld grass, camped off with an ordinary diamond mesh wire fence. Gradually it took shape. There used to be a fairly high “bank” or “hill” just to your left as you enter the premises, hence the name Sunnybank.

Over the years it has been trampled down under all the little feet and is now almost non-existent. Even today children stand on “top” of the “bank” when ringing the bell! A Jungle Gym was erected, the adventure area, with commando net was a later addition. The swings have been repaired or replaced a number of times, as they are in use most of the day! In 2010 we welcomed the addition of a new “Wendy house” which is used for our Dolly’ Corner, a fantasy play area. There is now also a separate play area especially for the Bees and Ants next to the main school building, as well as a play area for the Ducks and the Mice behind the main school building.

The playground would not be the same without the glorious trees! How the shade is the envy of many other pre-schools. To climb a tree is a very important step for a child and signifies several important things including that he is big enough to reach, he feels the thrill of a little danger and he has control (they will not climb where they do not feel safe) and of course, he is seen by all the other children as “big”. Unfortunately having the trees also means that we do not have lawns, not a significant disadvantage if you come to think of it – no watering and no mowing! The possibly “tons” of sand carted in over the years are now evenly distributed on the playground, subsequently on rainy days and “water-week” days the children are covered in wet sand mostly, easily washed off.

Newsletter

The earliest newsletter on file dates back to April 1977. The newsletter always served as an effective way to communicate important matters to parents such as announcements regarding outings, lost and found and dates for events.

Events

In the past, parents joined together for working parties. The toys and equipment in need of repairs were tended to and new equipment was constructed and erected. The Spring and Autumn teas were always very popular, as was the Spring Parade. The children still feel the mystery and excitement in preparing for a visit by the Easter Bunny and Father Christmas. This is reflected in the eagerness and care they take in making the Easter- and Christmas cards, and practising for the annual concert.

The same industrious activity and anticipation precedes Mother’s – and Father’s day, not to mention birthdays! Even Baker’s day receives its fair share of expectation.

Outings

The children have been introduced to many, many, places during numerous outings. Farms, the clinic, the optician, the fire station, the post office, the pet shop and the game farm to name but a few. The athletics meetings at St Dominic’s, Busy Bee and Drakensberg School are always fun. A Crèche in Madadeni was visited every other year, with a return visit from them the next year. The train rides were every bit as exhausting as they were interesting. This was also the case with the visits to Newcastle Winter festival. Due to the increased number of children, the problems with reliable transport and increased safety risks, the number of outings has diminished, but those we still have, are much enjoyed and appreciated.

Themes

Themes are changed once a week to make the children aware of a wide variety of subjects. The outings, if any, and the creative work for that week centres on the theme. The children are encouraged to visit the theme table and in class are asked to report about it.

Children’s Creative Work

The children at Sunnybank are exposed to a great variety of media in which to express their creativity including painting (making use of starch-paint, mud, waterpaints etc), cutting and pasting, construction, collage making, drawing with different materials and handcraft. This is done in a well planned program so that they do not loose interest and keep their enthusiasm for their work. Sunnybank children are extremely proud of their work and really appreciate it being shown off! They learn new skills, how to follow instructions, and the importance of responsibility, since they have to remember to take their creations home every day.

The work also provides them with practice and experience to be able to tackle more advanced work the next time. If at first a child does not succeed, they are encouraged to keep on trying, without ever feeling that they failed as this builds confidence.

School Readiness

The Elephants and Giraffes work work from the National Curriculum Statement to prepare them for big school. In the School Readiness programme we cover all aspects of the child’s development namely social, emotional, creative, intellectual and physical needs. We do our best to prepare the children for formal school. We follow a school readiness programme, which covers concepts like shapes, colours, classification, directionality, laterality, number concepts, spatial perception and many more.

The Grade R’s “read”a wide variety of advanced books such as Roald Dahl and E.B White books during “story-time”, which improves their vocabulary and memory. They also learn speech rhymes and songs and actively participate in music and drama rings. Sunnybank children grow and develop in a warm, loving environment. Every effort is made to equip each child with a healthy self-image and a positive outlook on life in general.

Reports

In March, June and again in December a progress report is prepared for every child provided that he/she had been in Sunnybank for longer than 3 months. Parents who wish to discuss their child’s progress are free to make an appointment with the teacher or attend the parent’s evenings.

Equipment

The equipment at Sunnybank is aimed at the development of the child, be it physical, emotional, cognitive, creative or social. It ranges from a well equipped library, puzzles, toys, paint, etc. to the use of waste materials and nature’s bounty in the form of leaves, sand, water, flowers, acorns, etc. The construction area, as well as Dolly’s corner, opens ways for creative and imaginative play.

Story-Time

To read or tell a child a story is one of the best investments any person can make towards a child’s development and a very rewarding experience for the reader or teller! Once a child is “hooked” on stories, reading will come as a natural next step in his development and that is a necessity for coping with schoolwork, etc. Children can watch videos and hear a story that way, but it cannot achieve the same result as reading.

Developmental Rings

The wealth of rhythm, in both rhymes and songs, is needed in so many ways; for instance in reading and development of memory. You just have to watch or hear any small child sing a song to understand what the worth is to their projection of themselves. This includes: drama, role-play, fine and large motor development and increasing vocabulary through theme discussions.

Food

The children who are registered for full day enjoy a well balanced meal together with a pudding or a fruit every day – see Menu. There is always porridge on the stove for anyone who might want some breakfast. Morning tea is rooibos tea plus peanut-butter toast (a great favourite!).

Religion

We are a Christian school and embrace Christian values as part of our daily programme.

Parents

We would like to thank each and every one of our parents and grandparents for entrusting your child to Sunnybank. Over the years parental support had been invaluable. Thank you for supplying us with stationary and waste materials. Thank you for testifying about Sunnybank, many “new” parents’ application forms state that they prefer their child to attend Sunnybank on the strength of what “existing” parents say about us.

Thank you for your time and efforts regarding outings, Baker’s days, concerts etc. Thank you for keeping the crown on the head of your child’s teacher, as your child spends a lot of his waking hours at school. Be assured that our aim is to equip your child for an independent and creative future.

Sunnybank is not just a school to your child, they become part of a larger family, and many children have made lifelong friendships which have started right here at Sunnybank. Thank you for considering Sunnybank as the Pre-school/Playschool for your child. We look forward to meeting you.

We love your child!