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Orchard Preschool Set To Open In Carrigaline

Local lady Karen Cotter is set to open Orchard Preschool in Kilnagleary, Carrigaline with enrolments from September 2021. Here Karen introduces herself and her journey to opening the business.

I’ve always loved children, even from a young age. Minding my dolls and playing teacher with my sister. My mum always said she knew that I would end up working with children.

After leaving school, I started working in a creche in Douglas called ABC. I studied at night in CIT, part time. I loved the idea of being able to work and study together. I really felt the two came hand in hand when it came to practical learning and experience. ABC was a great learning environment for me, I got to experience working with all ages from babies up to school aged children and really enjoyed my time there.

Pics by Siobhan Russell

During my summers in college I was lucky enough to call Greece home for the months of May-August. I travelled each year with my boyfriend now husband and we both did seasonal work there on a beautiful island called Lefkada. I nannied, and Tom was a diving instructor. We both loved to travel and knew once we had our degrees, somewhere new was on the horizon.

In 2015 we moved to Melbourne, Australia, a beautiful part of the world we were lucky enough to call home for 4.5 years. I knew I wanted to continue working with children in Melbourne but I was seeking something a little different this time, I wanted to gain a community experience whilst helping children from various backgrounds. This is where North St Kilda Children’s Centre came in. NSKCC was not only a daycare for kids but was a home away from home for them. The community support was something I had never experienced before. It was a council run center and from the first day I instantly felt part of the family. Working the majority of my time in the Kinder room (what we know to be preschool) I really gained a love for older children aged 3-5. This is also where my grá for outdoor teaching began. Numbers, colors, shapes and letters are all taught to a child in preschool, but the idea of being able to channel this teaching in an outdoor setting through play is just amazing. Children soak it all in whilst enjoying the learning process unbeknownst to them. It was a new way of teaching and I was never going back.

When the time came to return home, I knew I wanted to replicate what I had learnt in Australia. I got a job in a beautiful school in Bishopstown called Horizons Montessori, where the love of outdoor play and learning went hand in hand. The owner Lee Herlihy was and still is a real mentor to me. The free movement and choice for the children in the school was everything. They were in charge of their day.

I knew I always wanted to own and run my own preschool and saw a need for one in the area in which we live in Carrigaline. The town is only growing and I kept hearing from people struggling to get their children into a school, in particular a school with an emphasis on the outdoors. With support from family and friends we slowly started to clear the land the school is now on. The Orchard Preschool, Kilnagleary grew from strength to strength and what we have accomplished over the last year is amazing. This along with having my son Noah now four months old are some my greatest achievements thus far.

The values I had for the school from the start were always clear in my mind. A nature and nurture approach to the early years. An outdoor setting where fun and learning go hand in hand. I believe that when children are happy and confident in themselves, learning is made easier. This coupled with our beautiful spacious play area makes for a healthy happy environment.

I’m so excited to open our ECCE school this September and welcome all of the children enrolled for 2021. We are going to have a fantastic year filled with fun, friendships and, most importantly, play.

For any enquiries you may have please email or check out our Facebook page The Orchard Preschool Kilnagleary.

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