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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Lambs at Kinderen!

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Spring time in New Zealand is when we get to see babies of all shapes and sizes being born all over the country. One or our teachers finds orphan lambs most years to bring in to Kinderen so our children can start to learn about caring for animals, life cycles and being brave to try new things.

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This year we have enjoyed lots of little white Romney and Perindale lambs and even a black faced Dorpet came to spend some time in the centres.

The lambs wear nappies at Kinderen to keep our playgrounds hygienic and this is of great interest to children!

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Some of the children can be a little bit afraid of the lambs to start with and it is wonderful to see them grow more confident and enjoy spending time playing with these animals. We often hear the children laugh out loud as they witness lambs learning to jump and run in the playground.

The children all love to help feed the lambs their bottles and it is a fun way to learn all the incidental concepts and skills that children are constantly acquiring e.g. social skills (taking turns, leadership, helping others), fine and gross motor skills (holding bottles steady), science (holding the bottle at the angle that has milk at the lambs mouth), and lots and lots of language.

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Learning Together through Fun and Adventure

farm6Once a fortnight the oldest children at Kinderen’s Big Centre head out for a farm adventure where they learn a holistic set of life skills in a unique environment of fun, challenge and achievement. The many opportunities to interact with animals and nature provide these children with an experience like nothing we can create in the classroom.

farm7Learning about life cycles of the natural world teaches children to understand that what they do makes a difference. We start to build the foundations of environmentally thoughtful young human beings as they make friends with chickens, feed them, collect their eggs, then cook something yummy and nourishing for their own bodies.

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We also teach children to notice beauty in the trees and plants around them, to see that not all things are the same and that this is okay and right  in nature, just as it is okay and right in people. We are all different and special in our own individual ways, just as the trees and plants are all made unique and special. This brings acceptance of ourselves – which grows confidence; Acceptance of others – which grows kindness. When children are confident in themselves and disposed to being kind to others, their relationships flourish and the future starts to look brighter for them and for our community.

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The forest provides children with opportunities to grow their fine and large motor skills in more challenging and satisfying ways then man-made monkey bars ever can. The irregular nature of natural spaces means thinking about where they are putting their feet, lifting their legs high and ducking down low – multi-tasking and firing all those brain cells as they create imaginative games to enjoy with their friends.

 

We are so lucky to be able to provide these opportunities for our children here in Aotearoa!

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.