Last week at kindergarten there was extra
excitement as we received a special delivery of our new ukuleles.Our tamariki appeared very delighted to
finally have these wonderful instruments back at kindergarten and seemed
especially happy to know that it was all made possible through their own hard
work at the wheels-a-thon and all the tremendous sponsorship they received.
There are many benefits to exposing children to
musical experiences, something that we value highly and are passionate about at
Mairtown, as research states;
ignites all areas of child development; intellectual, social and emotional,
motor, language, and overall literacy.It helps the body and the mind work together.Exposing children to music during early
development helps them learn the sounds and meanings of words.
benefits of music for children include learning cooperation, sharing, compromise,
creativity, and concentration – skills that become invaluable as they enter
school, face new challenges and begin to form new friendships and develop
social skills. (Bright Horizons, 2010)
The end of term is fast approaching as this is
the last week of kindergarten for term one.On behalf of the teaching team we wish everyone happy holidays during
the term break and look forward to seeing you all refreshed and ready for term
two Monday 2nd May 2016.
At Mairtown Kindergarten we have been
running a successful Nature Programme since July 2011. This involves 10 of our
oldest children heading into our local park for the 4 hour session on a Friday.
The children are dropped off and picked up from the Banff Street entrance to the
beautiful Mair Park. This has become an integral part of who we are as a
kindergarten, giving our early childhood service a point of difference.
Come rain or
shine the children brave the elements and head out with a group of their peers,
a teacher, Sarah (our nature programme coordinator) and a parent or whānau
helper and have their kindergarten session in the bush. The nature programme
has been set up to extend on our learning curriculum and provide the children
with opportunities beyond what we can offer in our kindergarten. The local park that we have access
to is made up of beautiful, dense native bush, full of kauri, manuka, puriri
and punga trees to name a few. There are spaces that feel intimate under the
wonderful tree top canopy and spaces that are open and airy. It also has the splendid
Hatea River that runs through the middle of it. All this natural splendour is something
that we appreciate greatly and enjoy during our time in the bush.
Our Nature Programme is about
enhancing children’s connection with nature and all it has to offer. Learning is provided spontaneously and organically
by Papatūānuku (Mother Earth) and the natural variety that exists in the bush,
in addition to its ever changing seasons and endless opportunities for
discovery, makes it the ideal location for genuine on-going learning.
creativity in a child by demanding visualization and full use of the sense”
Every week that we go into the bush
the experience is different. The children take the lead and in an un-hurried
manner negotiate where they would like to go on the day. Our time in the bush
is effected by many contexts, for example which children are in the group,
which teacher is on the programme or what the weather is doing. Some days are
full of trekking through the beautiful bush, busily finding spaces to explore, to
climb, to jump from, to slide down as the children actively interact with the environment.
While other days take on a slower pace, sitting down, quietly playing amongst
the beautiful bush and taking in the environment. The time in the bush is
invigorating for all involved, however it also leaves us a little exhausted by
the time we get back to the top of the hill where our families are awaiting our
return after a morning in the bush.
natural world is a playground and place of discovery for adults and children
. . . it is a place for adventure, exploration and imagination as well as generating
a deepening care and connectedness with our environment.” (DoC NZ)
Our Nature Programme success is credited
to the dedication from our community. To make this programme happen week to
week we require at least one parent or whānau helper to join us to keep our
ratios in check. We have a wonderful response
from our families when filling up our roster of helpers from term to term. We
are truly grateful for the ongoing support that we receive from our families.
Some of our kindergarten families have provided feedback for us as to what the Nature Programme has meant to them.
“There is so much to do and it is great that whilst the learning and exploration was self-determined by the kids they had very structured rules and guidelines that are obviously reinforced every week – I saw this as a great strength to the programme and to cement the children’s knowledge of safety and kaitiakitanga.”
“Our kindergarten is a pioneer in the Nature Programme here in the North. It is our point of difference- which in turn gives those children participating a gift that lasts a life time.”
We are also incredibly lucky to have
Sarah on the programme every week in the role of Nature Programme Coordinator. This
is made possible because we have been successful in receiving a COG’s grant over
the past few years. Sarah’s role is invaluable and she is such an asset to the
success of our Nature Programme. Sarah is the continuous person every week who
is able to share knowledge about what has been happening, where the children
have been exploring and what their interests have been.
Being out in community is another
aspect of the Nature Programme that we hold dear to our heart. Our Nature Programme
is promoting not only our own kindergarten in a positive light but also the
Northland Kindergarten Association. We have had quite a number of children
enrol at our kindergarten after they have come across our group in Mair Park. We
have also had many families enrol specifically at our kindergarten to attend
the Nature Programme after hearing about it from others in the community. We have
had numerous early childhood educators from within our kindergarten
association, as well as from other services in Northland and even as far afield
as Australia, come and observe how we run our Nature Programme. This interest
is an indicator of how worthwhile and forward thinking this programme is.
In the book ‘Learning with Nature:
Embedding outdoor practice, Claire Warden (2015) acknowledges that, “Children need all the adults around them
to understand why outdoor learning is essential for them. A practitioner’s
attitude, understanding and commitment will be key to the development of
child-led experiences. Adults need to harness the special nature of outside and
be responsive to the day-to-day changes nature offers.”
We believe that time spent in the bush
on the Nature Programme will instil a love of the outdoors in the children that
experience it and support them in gaining a meaningful understanding of all the
wonderful, magical, beautiful things that nature has to offer. For this reason
we will work to make sure our Nature Programme stays the same and stays a part
of our high quality early childhood programme at Mairtown Kindergarten.
“Teaching children about
the natural world should be treated as one of the most important events in
their lives.” (Berry)