About Us

Our Story

Responding to a need in the community for quality early years education and care, The Gums Childcare was established by Alex and Sid Nicholls in 2006. Alex has a Bachelor of Education (Junior Primary/ Primary) and a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (In Service). She had previously worked for five years teaching in the Clare Valley before establishing The Gums with her husband Sid. Alex has a passion for the outdoor learning environment and in nature play and this is reflected in the centre’s expansive outdoor gardens and adjoining bush block.

In 2012 a further opportunity arose to establish a pre-school in conjunction with Vineyard Lutheran School, Clare. Little Vines Early Learning Centre opened at the start of 2013 at The Gums Childcare site to provide families from Clare and surrounding areas with an integrated, play centred preschool program based on the world recognised Reggio Emilia philosophy and practice.

The Gums and Little Vines ELC provide a curriculum of learning that ensures the best outcomes for children. Our educators are dedicated professionals who share a commitment to quality early years education.


We believe that children are capable, confident and competent learners, and aim to provide a play based, nature rich child initiated program reflecting this view. We believe it is essential for children to use their imagination, to be curious, to be creative, to develop friendships and to have fun.

We recognise the rights of children as citizens in our community and as such value the importance of giving children a voice. Through active listening we enable children to express their interests and needs, to share their emotions, to develop confidence and a sense of self, and to share their learning.

We aim to develop and maintain strong links within the local community and acknowledge and incorporate the resources available that are provided through our relationship with local schools, businesses and the environment. We encourage an awareness and respect for our environment.

Our goals in implementing this philosophy are:

In relation to children:

  • to feel  emotionally secure but with the freedom of choice, and opportunities for risk and challenge.
  • to adopt inclusive practices at our centre
  • to provide healthy food options

in relation to educators:

  • high staff morale, open communication and team work 
  • to recognise the importance of systematic evaluation and the review of everyday practice for continual improvement.
  • to value professional development opportunities that enable us to engage in the learning of best practice and latest research. 
  • the belief that children should be able to grow in knowledge through a creative and evolving learning framework (programs/policies/procedures) that aims to meet the educational, developmental and emotional needs of each child.
  • to be inspired by Reggio Emilia practices

For families and the community:

  • to value and respect the partnership between educators and families in sharing each child’s learning journey
  • to implement practices to prevent and help limit the spread of illness and      infection