Pictured from left "gorgeous explorers" Jesse, 4, Lara, 5, Austin, 4, Gemma, 5, Amelia, 4 and Christopher, 4. Credit: CHRISTOPHER CHAN
Diamonds might be the traditional gift to mark a 60th anniversary, but the kids at St Luke's Preschool are happier with balloons and fairy floss.
The Dapto preschool is celebrating 60 years of educating the community's toddlers on Sunday.
Things have certainly changed since the preschool, which is a ministry of Dapto Anglican Church, opened six decades ago to meet the needs of the growing number of young families in the area.
It has moved buildings several times, settling down in its present spot on Moombara Street in 1985. A new playground with a botanical focus was built two years ago.
Over the years the attitude towards early childhood education has changed significantly. Preschool director Julie Irving said students could once be dropped off over the fence for a pound a day and took their naps on stretchers in the playground.
While many of the activities the students do during the day are the same as their parents and grandparents would have done, Mrs Irving said there was an increased understanding of the benefits of play thanks to highly qualified teachers.
"Valuing what they play and understanding more about children has changed the way we run the preschools; they still would have played with sand and rode bikes, but our resources are so much better so they can extend and develop well," she said.
But despite the changes, Mrs Irving said there was one main constant.
"The importance of children has been lifted so much over the 60 years, but children in themselves don't change, they are gorgeous explorers and wanderers and are full of knowledge to share and love to engage with each other during play.
"And that's how they learn, by having fun. St Luke's has always had that foundation."
To mark the occasion on Sunday the community is invited to attend a service at Dapto Anglican Church at 10am, followed by a celebration fair from 11.30am to 1pm with jumping castles, face painting and farm animals.