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.
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.
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.
Our Forest trips are founded on the theoretical influences of scholars, as far back as the 18th century, who believed in the importance of children playing and learning outdoors in order to improve their physical, cognitive, social and spiritual well-being. Being outside in the open air and having access to green spaces has obvious benefits to growing healthy, strong bodies and reducing stress. Experiencing wind, rain and sun gives children firsthand knowledge and experience about keeping themselves healthy. Gaining real knowledge about their world and putting this into practice gives children confidence in their abilities in other areas.
The lessons we wish to teach children about the natural world around them weaves together with the Māori belief in the interconnectedness of people and the earth we came from. All things are united through mauri (life force) and the concept of hauora (total well-being and balance with nature) is highly valued. Whanaungatanga, where all people embrace each other through the wider family relationships, extends to the earth and people respectfully expressing kaitiakitanga (guardianship) towards all living things.
Spending time in the natural environment positively affects EVERY AREA of child development, the more variety encountered, the more children will learn. Being outside fulfils children’s need for freedom and adventure, it supplies them with the opportunities to assess and experience risk, assessing risk when they are young enables children to learn how to problem-solve and make safe and logical choices. The environment a child spends time in is fundamental to creating the peace, harmony and beauty needed for nourishing the whole child.