Day Care Het Steigertje: a world of its own in a multi-tenant business building
Tenant in the spotlight
Anyone who knows the inside of the Groot Handelsgebouw will know there is a play area on the second floor. Het Steigertje is a childcare centre that found a spot in the Groot Handelsgebouw over eighteen years ago and now seems to be part of its fabric. The cheerfully laid-out play area gives just a slight glimpse of a world within the largest multi-tenant business building in the Netherlands.
“Everyone’s always impressed by the Groot Handelsgebouw. Me too – even yet!”
For the last eighteen months, Stephanie Verkerk has been the site manager for Het Steigertje Childcare in the Groot Handelsgebouw, one of the six locations in the centre of Rotterdam. Stephanie is responsible for all the ins and outs of childcare there for children aged up to four. “Having a branch in the Groot Handelsgebouw is ideal, of course, right next to Rotterdam Central Station. We have lots of customers from the surrounding districts, as well as parents who work in the building and commuters. The Groot Handelsgebouw has turned into the genuine village over the last few years, with catering, a dance school, expats and creative companies in Kleinhandel – a real melting pot. Everyone’s always impressed by the Groot Handelsgebouw. Me too – even yet!”
A world of its own
Het Steigertje childcare centre is a small world of its own. Behind the doors, there is a kitchen where the meals are prepared, a laundry room, bedrooms and lots of space for group activities and games. “I’m responsible for the eighty-one children who we look after every day, all the teaching staff, the assistant site manager Lea, the cook and the domestic help.” Stephanie studied educational theory in Amsterdam, but when she started working in that field, she found in the end that she was too far removed from the practical side. “As an educationalist, I was mostly involved in policy. I’m closer to the group now and I can follow the children’s development from close by and I really like that.”
“The children get to know themes and activities that they are not yet familiar with, but for them it feels just like playing.”
Individual and inclusive care
Stephanie explains Het Steigertje’s approach enthusiastically. They work according to a preschool and early school-age educational programme that prepares children for primary school as they play. “Take language skills and numeracy. We have various activities during the day that focus on that. The children get to know themes and activities that they are not yet familiar with, but for them it feels just like playing.”
“We work using a child-oriented philosophy. Individual care is very important to us. Every child’s needs are slightly different and we allow for that. It’s all done with loving care and attention for the kids. We also have room at Het Steigertje for children who need a bit more help in their development. There are children who come from the Youth and Family Centre who are flagged as needing ‘Extra play and learning’. The child can join in with the group and they will progress in leaps and bounds. And we’re definitely proud of that,” says Stephanie with a broad grin.
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