He kākano ahau i ruia mai i Rangiātea
I am a seed that was sown in the heavens of Rangiātea
The Kindergarten is a place where childhood is cherished and a sense of wonder is nurtured. Tamariki play imaginatively and creatively, and develop freely within their world. There is a balance between self-directed play and the sharing of teacher-led group activities. Inside activities can include painting, baking, handwork, drawing, singing and stories, while outside tamariki can run and skip, climb trees and swing, play in the sandpit or help with gardening. The first seven years of a child’s life are of the utmost importance for developing capacities needed later in life.
The primary developmental task during the first seven years is for the child to build a strong, healthy body. Therefore, premature demands on the intellect and working with abstract ideas are avoided as much as possible. The child is given time to exercise motor skills, experience and use language, and to develop social and emotional capacities through real experiences and interactions. There are no computers or screens in Kindergarten – families are encouraged to do likewise at home – as these devices hinder physical activity, creativity, and sociability.
The daily life of the Kindergarten is set within a home-like atmosphere and follows a harmonious rhythm. The teachers are engaged in purposeful activities, such as mending, gardening, and food preparation. The child learns about their world through imitation and by ‘doing’. The celebration of festivals and other special events provide tamariki with the experience of the yearly rhythm, for example, ngahuru, autumn, is a time for gathering and preserving produce.
Creative play resources are handcrafted from natural materials or come directly from nature, te taiao. They tend to be open ended so that tamariki are free to work with them imaginatively – a piece of wood, for example, could become a baby, a bridge or a train.
The Kindergarten consists of a nursery and four kindergartens. Each room can accommodate a maximum of 20 children with two qualified teachers. The nursery caters for children aged 2 to 4 years old, and the kindergartens from 4 to 7 years old. Children remain in kindergarten until after their sixth birthday before starting school in Class One the following year.
The Kindergarten day begins at 8.45am and finishes at 3.00pm with the option of an earlier finish at 1.00pm for children under five years.