Teaching is FUN-damantal, but not without structural, and professional context
Our number one commitment is to the quality care and education of all our tamariki. We believe strongly in whanaungatanga- “a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It also extends to others to whom one develops a strong familial, friendship or reciprocal relationship” (maoridictionary.co.nz). We have very low child-to-teacher ratios which helps staff to build strong, secure relationships with every child. Children are our number ONE priority.
We embrace our point-of-difference in the community- we are an extremely culturally-diverse centre, having children and staff from nations around the world as part of our centre family. These cultures currently include Maori, New Zealand, Cook Island, Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian, as well as 10-15 other cultures. We honour our commitment to Te Tiriti o Waitangi (The Treaty of Waitangi), upholding the principles within the document- Protection, Participation and Partnership and ensuring that our Maori culture and language is preserved and promoted.
Lots and Lots of Excursions!
We are extremely lucky to be situated within the city centre, and right beside Queens Park. This means that we can go on spontaneous and planned excursions as often as possible; by foot to the park, museum, shops to purchase resources, the library, and in the centre van to other destinations. We have weekly excursions to the bush for Nature’s Discovery, to Splash Palace during terms 1 & 4 for swimming lessons, and we have taken part in sessions at the Stadium Southland Rock-climbing wall and to Rabbitte Ranch (a local hands-on farm experience). We participate yearly in the Murihiku Polyfest. We also have a reciprocal relationship with the “grandparents” at Peacehaven Rest Home, visiting them every 2 months and they come to visit our centre too.
“Te Whāriki interprets the notion of curriculum broadly, taking it to include all the experiences, activities and events, both direct and indirect, that occur within the ECE setting. It provides a framework of principles, strands, goals and learning outcomes …. provides a basis for each setting to weave a local curriculum that reflects its own distinctive character and values. ” (Ministry of Education, Te Whāriki, 2017, p. 7).
Our teaching staff consists of both qualified and registered early childhood educators, and unqualified but highly-skilled teachers who come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them a wealth of knowledge in different areas. We also have dedicated volunteers who come in to support the teaching staff as needed.
We have teaching students at our centre every year, doing placements as part of their course of learning. We have a close relationship with the University of Otago Teachers College (Invercargill Campus), and also receive students from New Zealand Tertiary College and Open Polytechnic. We value the opportunity to support student teachers on their journey towards becoming qualified members of the teaching profession.
Te Whāriki is underpinned by a vision for children who are competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society. (https://www.education.govt.nz/early-childhood/teaching-and-learning/te-whariki/)
We know that children learn through play, and that within their play there are unlimited opportunities to introduce and support literacy, numeracy, exploration, thinking, imagination, creativity, fine-motor and gross-motor skills, social skills when relating to others such as listening, sharing and contributing, communication- both non-verbal and verbal, learning to manage themselves and become independent, self-motivated and resilient, and having a sense of belonging that allows them to participate fully within their environment.
There are many areas of play within the curriculum; these are adventure and junk play/aotūroa, blocks/poro rākau, stories and storytelling- reading, writing, listening and speaking/pūrākau pānui pukapuka, tuhi, whakarongo, kōrero, carpentry/tārai rākau, clay/uku, collage/mahi toi, family and dramatic play/ngā whakaari ā-whānau, information communication technology (ICT)/ngā rau tangotango, manipulative equipment for play/ mahi ā-ringa, messy play/korihori pōrehe, music/waiata, natural resources/ngā rawa ā-Māori, painting/waituhi, physically active play/korikori, playdough/paraoa poke, puppets/ ngā karetao, puzzles/panga, sand/kirikiri, science and nature/pūtaiao, visits and outings/ haerenga , and water play/korikori wai. We offer most of these activities on a daily or weekly basis, as weather and circumstances allow. It is within these areas of play that mathematics, literacy, communication, exploration, and contribution can all be incorporated meaningfully and intentionally.