Empowering our younger tamariki

For the infant and toddler age group, tamariki are still ‘learning how to learn’. It is important that during this crucial stage that they are supported and empowered by trusted adults to experiment, test their ideas and develop their own unique style of learning. Empowerment is one of the underpinning principles of our early childhood curriculum, but what does it look like in action? A key part of empowerment is supporting tamariki to have “I did it” moments where they can feel the achievement of doing something themselves. It is being there for them through their struggles, not making sure they never struggle. It is being a place of comfort that says “I’m here for you, try again when you’re ready”. Empowerment is leaving space for children to direct their own learning, to make mistakes and to develop strategies for what to do next time.It can be tempting as an adult to want to remove obstacles from tamariki, it feels nicer watching the successes than it does to see children experience challenges. Empowering tamariki means they can develop a sense of themselves as capable and resilient. It allows them to understand that things don’t always go to plan and what to do when this happens. At Kinderen we empower children from a base of caring and responsive relationships. We help them to get through the tough bits of life with kind words and a shoulder to cry on, rather than steering them away from the difficulty. We talk out loud to help tamariki to label and respond to their big emotions – “You were trying to climb on the plank and you fell, that hurts”. We acknowledge efforts- “Thank you for stopping your bike to let your friend pass, that was kind”. And we let them try again, even if it is frustrating and takes a long time. This all helps tamariki to become more resilient in the long run and to have a strong sense of who they are and how they learn.Here are some pictures of our tamariki confidently moving through our environment with the attitude that they CAN do it. Free to explore, assess risks and to try things on their own.

May be an image of child and outdoors
May be an image of child and outdoors

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May be an image of child and outdoors
May be an image of child, standing and indoor

Kinderen Philosophy – Kaupapa o Kinderen

Respect is important to us at Kinderen.  We are respectful with each other and of all living things within our environment.

We work hard to develop meaningful and trusting relationships with the children in our care and their whānau.  These relationships form the foundation of future learning and development and allow for the child and their whānau to feel safe and welcome within our Centre.

We acknowledge New Zealand’s bicultural heritage and multicultural society. We give our children opportunities to learn about their own and other cultures. We have an in-depth knowledge of Te Whāriki and include all the strands, principles and virtues in our daily curriculum.

We create an environment where personal worth is valued and encouraged, by being aware of  family’s needs and culture, and by providing a loving environment that allows children the opportunity to make choices and determine their own actions.

We provide a curriculum where children can learn through active exploration of their environment.  Children will be given the opportunity and be encouraged to develop knowledge, skills and dispositions. We assess and plan our programme, valuing children’s and their whānau’s contributions.

Primary Caregiving at Kinderen

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Many centres advertise that they provide ‘Primary Caregivers’ for children who attend. In most centres this means that there are 3 teachers who care for each child, the first teacher is the ‘primary’, the second teacher is the ‘secondary’ and steps in when the primary is busy or away and the third teacher is the ‘third’ when both the primary and the secondary are busy and/or away. In a centre that caters for 50 to 100 children, this is really important because there could be 5 to 10 adults interacting with each child every day which can get pretty overwhelming for infants.

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Having a Primary Caregiver for each child is certainly good practice in ECE centres and that is why we keep our child and adult numbers small here at Kinderen. For example, in our little centre we have a team of 5 teachers, 2 who work predominately in the nursery with around 6 children (which gives our infants a primary and a secondary caregiver) and 3 who work with the toddlers (which gives these children 3 teachers to choose from). We encourage our children to choose who they wish to interact with and we follow their lead.

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However at Kinderen, we believe that a child’s parents/whanau are their REAL Primary Carers and that we are their extended family, here to support, nurture and cherish every day.

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It’s Christmas Time

What do you remember about Christmas from when you were a child? Special food, the smell of the Christmas tree or the dusty decorations being pulled out of the cupboard, seeing family, laughing and fun. Or are your memories of stressed adults, shouting and tears, rushing and worrying? What do you want your children to remember about Christmas? What traditions do you want to create for them? Now is the best time to start – or carry on – family traditions that your children will remember with happiness and love to tell their children about.

Christmas is a time to share with loved ones, celebrate the achievements of the year and plan for the future together. It doesn’t have to cost money, let’s teach our children to find meaningful ways of giving, not get caught up in the hype of the commercial Christmas but instead to create thoughtful memories for those we love.075

At Kinderen, we pull out the Christmas decorations each year; we invite and encourage the children to create more decorations to add to our unique collection. The older children love to look through and show their younger friends decorations they remember from last year. Then they make more – and show their friends how it is done. Often we research new ways of making decorations together and extend our skills – we make enough for children to take some home and add to their own Christmas tree.

Our Kinderen Christmas tree gets decorated and redecorated as some of the children show a keen interest in design and creating beauty. The whole centre becomes a Christmas wonderland and we look through our photos from last year, remembering the fun, the shared kai with our families and the friends who have moved on. The children are supported to take a leading role in creating and participating in Kinderen’s special Christmas traditions and in exchange they feel a sense of belonging that transfers into a self-confidence and self-possession rarely seen in such young children.

Merry Christmas everyone – peace and joy to you and your family.