2023 Annual Letter
Hello Choklits Community,
For the last few years, in the period between Christmas and New Year, we’ve sat down and written the Choklits Annual Letter. It chronicles our thoughts and documents some of the journey that has been the year. The letter is public and written for our entire community, in particular our incredible team and parents and carers who choose Choklits. If you’re new to our annual letter, welcome! If you’re a regular, we thank you for coming back, and thank you for being part of the Choklits Community.
Choklits is all about people and without each and every one of you, Choklits wouldn’t be much. Thank you all so much!
2023 sure was an action-packed year at Choklits. It was our first full year with all 3 centres; Ringwood, Surrey Hills and Croydon. We improved many aspects of our curriculum this year, added new experiences and excursions, welcomed many new families and helped almost 100 children graduate kindergarten and get ready for school. The Choklits Group now provides over 1500 early learning opportunities and education places every week, and we are pretty proud of that!
We both feel incredibly lucky to work in the early learning space and extremely privileged to lead Choklits. We believe childhood is much more than a stage of life, we believe it’s the most important. Children’s energy is infectious and it creates a wonderful environment to be in. As parents of our twins Hubert and Abigail we get that at work and at home. We really are lucky.
Thousands of families in Ringwood have relied on Choklits for early education since the doors were opened back in 1994. Building on that tradition and growing our community is something we take great pride in. Jodi McVea and Sue Brewer lead the team through their most productive year ever in 2023. Our program continued to grow, and there were countless excursions and new experiences (click here for a look at the visit to the Melbourne Aquarium). Our Kindergarten Graduation was so big we had to hire an auditorium! One of our biggest inspirations for the year was Jodi herself. In particular, the way she managed herself and her family through personal tragedy. There’s a quote that goes something like- in calm waters every ship has a good captain. It’s not until the swell comes up the leadership gets tested. Jodi never missed a beat. As owners, how the entire Choklits Community responded was a period of immense pride. More details are here. We thank you all so much for your thoughts, help and for everything you gave. Choklits is an amazing place.
Choklits Surrey Hills is yet to turn two years old so our primary focus over the past 12 months has been growing and developing our team. We have amazing educators at Surrey Hills, some who’ve been with us since we acquired the service in 2022. With many new families joining us throughout the year, we continually grew our team. It is, of course, a balancing act. We are required to meet the minimum educator to child ratios, but that is only a minimum. Choklits has a long history of far exceeding the minimum requirements. As we continue to grow in 2024 we’ll be looking for many more experienced educators and support staff to join our team. A standout moment this year was the Diwali celebration, which brought immense joy and cultural enrichment to both children and educators. The festivities were a vivid display of the diverse and inclusive spirit of Choklits, showcasing the beauty of different traditions (experience the celebration here).
New vegetable patches, playground upgrades, the introduction of bush kinder and the formation of the first ever Choklits Netball Team are just a few samples of the many happenings at Choklits Croydon this year. With all that activity it’s no surprise the management team of Deb Prelorenzo, Savannah Prelorenzo and Zac Essens grew enrolments by almost 45%. The team’s biggest achievement was their commitment to health and wellbeing and the completion of the Achievement Program for Early Childhood Services for which they were subsequently awarded by the Victorian Government. The program provides a framework that’s designed to help childhood services enhance their health and wellbeing initiatives to support a whole-of-service approach to health and wellbeing. Each of the 6 areas requires detailed documentation by our team and meticulous review by the governing body:
- Healthy Eating and Oral Health
- Physical Activity and Movement
- Mental Health and Wellbeing
- Sun Protection
- Safe Environments and,
- Tobacco, Alcohol and Other Drugs
The healthy eating component alone requires every ingredient from every dish on our menu, including the quality, to be submitted and checked for compliance. Each Choklits Service now serves the approved menu, you can read more about the program at choklits.com.au/croydon.
The publication of The Chokliteers Space Adventures, our 4th book in the Chokliteers series, marks another proud moment this year. This imaginative tale reflects the boundless creativity of children and has been well-received by our community who all got a copy for Christmas. The artistic talents of David Brewer, once again, have been a highlight. Over the past few years, many of you have suggested the books should be in book stores so we are happy to report that The Chokliteers Chesterfield Farm Visit, our third book, is now for sale at Chesterfield Farm and will soon be available on Amazon.
The adage that the value of an organisation is truly reflected in the quality of its people resonates deeply within the early learning sector. At Choklits, our dedicated educators, specialists, support staff, and industry experts are the cornerstone of our success, enriching each day with their unique skills and passion. In these times of widespread labour shortages, we consider ourselves fortunate to have attracted some of the finest talents in our field. This influx of exceptional individuals speaks volumes about the strength of our brand and the cohesive nature of our existing team. If we were to single out the most significant triumph of the past few years, it would undoubtedly be the remarkable people who have joined our journey. Their presence promises an exciting and vibrant future for the entire Choklits Community.
We’re driven by a growing body of scientific evidence that highlights the critical importance of these formative years. Astonishingly, by the age of five, a child’s brain has already developed 90% of its capacity. This period is more crucial than many realise, with lifelong implications. Early experiences and lessons tend to stick with us, shaping habits and behaviours that can be challenging to alter later in life. Recognising the immense value of these early years helps all of us make a positive difference during these foundational stages of human growth. That fuels our enthusiasm to continue to develop the curriculum that Hubert and Abigail graduated many years ago.
We’re now looking forward to continued growth and an exciting 2024! From our family to yours, we hope 2024 is your best year ever.
Never forget, Learning is Everywhere!
Previous year’s letters-