Feedback from Parents

Feedback from parents and whanau is important for teachers, as this helps us to improve our skills to teach your child. It gives us new ideas, and opportunities to further children’s learning. Feedback, positive or negative helps us know how we are doing and helps us know if you are happy with your child’s learning and progress. Feedback from our parents can help teachers learn more about your child, their home life, routines, likes and dislikes and we can relate that into our teaching practices and add this to your child’s learning opportunities. Feedback can be small or big, a simple answer can show us that you are happy and like what we do with your child. A longer piece of feedback and comments can help us understand how we can maintain your child’s happiness here. We look forward to receiving your feedback from our Learning Stories and chats with you at the door 🙂 

Recycling with preschoolers

It is so important that we teach our children to take care of their environment, whether they are at home or at preschool. It is an essential skill to teach children – and also provides wonder opportunities to discuss how certain materials are made and how they can be re-used.

Teaching our children about recycling is also very important as they prepare for school. If your child is not going to an Enviroschool when they leave daycare, they will almost certainly be going to a school striving to be one. Enviroschools is an environmental action based programme where young people are empowered to design and lead sustainability projects in their schools, neighbourhoods and country. So no age is too young to start learning and talking about recycling.

Here are 6 great recycling activities for preschoolers that we encourage you to try at home. At Play Learn Grow, Kelson, we really love teaching and showing our tamariki how they can help in looking after their environment.

1. Create a Recycling Centre

Using plastic recycling bins or cardboard boxes, create a recycling centre within your classroom. Get preschoolers involved in labelling, decorating and setting up the recycling bins in the room. As you label each box with plastic, paper, metal and cardboard, explain the types of items that might go in each one. Invite children to start sorting recyclables and continue to sort the items they use every day.

2. Recycled Crafts

There are plenty of ways to re-use recyclable materials like egg cartons, scrap paper, empty containers and lids, cardboard boxes and newspaper. Whether you show children how to make a specific craft, or challenge them to create art using only recycled materials, you can demonstrate how used materials can be re-used and transformed into something new.

3. Clean Up the Park

Visiting a local park and cleaning up litter is a fun recycling activity for preschoolers that not only teaches them about caring for the environment, but also about how they can help out in the community. Bring along recycling containers or clear trash bags to sort garbage and recyclables as preschoolers tidy the park.

4. Start a Compost Bin

Show preschoolers that food waste can be recycled too! Create a compost bin where children’s meal leftovers can be deposited. Make it part of your daily routine to empty scraps into the compost bin and periodically transfer its contents into an outdoor composter. Use this opportunity to teach children about the composting process and how food can be recycled into nutrient-rich soil.

5. Promote Recycling

Have preschoolers work on a poster (individually or as a class) that promotes the ideas of recycling, reducing waste and re-using items. Encourage the use of recycled materials in the creation of the poster, and display it proudly in your child care centre for all to see.

6. Recycling or Garbage?

Create flashcards featuring photos of recyclable materials and non-recyclable items. Show the flashcards one at a time to the class and have them work together to decide whether that item should go in the recycling bin or trash can. As children to explain why or why not each item can be recycled.

Benefits of Gardening with Young Children

Gardening is a great hand-on experience that offers so many fun and interesting learning opportunities for children. We have been doing lots of gardening with the children in the preschool room and they are loving it. These are some simple tasks that our children love to help with:

Weeding, pulling the weeds out of the soil.

Seeding, sprinkling the seeds in to the soil.

Planting, digging a hole for the baby plant and cover the roots with soil.

Watering, watering the soil when it is dry.

Harvesting, that is the exciting part! The children love eating fresh picked vegetables from our garden.

 As you can see from the tasks above, gardening engages all sorts of senses and helps children to develop fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination and the confidence in using the tools. They can feel the texture of wet and dry soil, water, seeds, leave, and flowers. They get to smell the scents of soil and flower and taste the vegetable of course. They get a real sense of achievement seeing the plants growing each day.

Children gain a keen interest in eating the vegetables if they help with growing them. It encourages healthy eating habits for the children from a very young age.

Growing flowers or vegetables from the seedling or baby plants requires care and attention. It is a great opportunity for the children to learn taking responsibility in looking after the plants and waiting patiently for them to grow.

There are so much learning happening during the gardening time. We are looking forward to watching the plants growing in our garden.

What is crossing the midline and why is it important??

The midline is an imaginary line down the middle of the body  Crossing this line (the middle of the body is when your arms and legs are crossing over to the opposite side of the body like when you fold your arms and legs or when your reach with your left arm over to your right arm to scratch your arm.

Crossing the line of your body is very important because it is a very necessary part of the childs development and for helping accomplish every day tasks like putting on your socks and shoe, building blocks, drawing, writing, reading a book by pointing at pictures and having your left hand reach over to the right side of the book to turn the pages. When your child crosses the midline with their dominant hand, then the dominant hand is getting the practice that it needs to develop and strengthen their fine motor skills.

If your child tries to avoid crossing the midline then both their hands will be equal and won’t be developing these skills properly and they will be delayed at strengthening their handedness. Skills like learning to write will be effected and because they don’t have one hand that’s stronger and more skilled it will become harder for them to accomplish this.

Activities that can help promote crossing the body’s midline could be banging objects together in the midline for example a tambourine. You could throw and kick a ball around which helps keep both sides of the body active and practicing crossing the midline. You can out stickers on one side of the body and get the child to remove them with their opposite hand. Another one that children love is popping bubbles when you blow them. You can also place objects on the left side of the body and get the child to pick up these items by using the right hand. There are many ways that a child can cross their midline and I hope that these ideas can help you at home.The midline is an imaginary line down the middle of the body  Crossing this line (the middle of the body) is when your arms and legs are crossing over to the opposite side of the body like when you fold your arms and legs or when your reach with your left arm over to your right arm to scratch your arm.

Crossing the line of your body is very important because it is a very necessary part of the child’s development and for helping accomplish every day tasks like putting on your socks and shoe, building blocks, drawing, writing, reading a book by pointing at pictures and having your left hand reach over to the right side of the book to turn the pages. When your child crosses the midline with their dominant hand, then the dominant hand is getting the practice that it needs to develop and strengthen their fine motor skills.

If your child tries to avoid crossing the midline then both their hands will be equal and won’t be developing these skills properly and they will be delayed at strengthening their handedness. Skills like learning to write will be effected and because they don’t have one hand that’s stronger and more skilled it will become harder for them to accomplish this.

Activities that can help promote crossing the body’s midline could be banging objects together in the midline for example a tambourine. You could throw and kick a ball around which helps keep both sides of the body active and practicing crossing the midline. You can put stickers on one side of the body and get the child to remove them with their opposite hand. Another one that children love is popping bubbles when you blow them. You can also place objects on the left side of the body and get the child to pick up these items by using the right hand. There are many ways that a child can cross their midline and I hope that these ideas can help you at home.

When searching for a center, what would I (ECE teacher) look for?

From a teacher’s perspective I would look at the general atmosphere of the Centre from the show around, arrival (drop offs), visits with the child and then the settling stage for the child.

These are questions I would be asking myself, prior to deciding. Am I rushed through the Centre, am I shown all areas of the Centre or selective parts? Does the person showing me around care about the child who I am bringing in? Would the child be safe, valued and cared for? What are the resources like, lots or fewer? I would be observing in the show arounds how the other teachers interact with the children around them.

I would be looking for closeness (distance) from the home or workplace, I would look for security and safety of the area, (location) are their main roads on the street, gates around the Centre, how easy or difficult is it to access the Centre?

It is important to take into consideration, the team (staff members) how they present themselves, what kind of a vibe do they give off. Are they kind, welcoming on arrival, approachable?

New parents and friends in the past have asked for my input as to what to look for, since they know I am an ECE teacher. My main pointers are, how do you feel when you walk in and out of the Centre? Can you see your child being happy there? Ask questions, it is ok to ask questions, regarding your child’s safety and wellbeing there, also around the daily routine. Do you feel comfortable and happy over all? Looks are not everything! Just because it looks modern is one thing, it does come down to the vibe and atmosphere of the Centre that truly makes it!

I know from experience, that peoples first impressions do count, and the look of the center does also decide on whether you want your child to be there. For example, nice new modern… however I do look at things like can resources outdoors be changed around to enhance the child’s growth or is it permanently in the ground, will they become bored over time and is there space for the child to run around?

Tracing with leaves

Tracing leaves:

This is a fun art activity you can do with your toddler that doesn’t involve much mess!  All you need are some leaves, paper and crayons.

1

Collect leaves of various shapes and sizes. You can use fresh leaves or dried fallen ones.

2

Place a leaf with its bottom side facing up.

3

Put a sheet of paper, preferably thin or lightweight, over the leaf.

4

Rub the side of a crayon gently on the area over the leaf.   As you do this, you’ll see the coloured areas start to take the shape of the leaf.

5

Remove the leaf from under the paper. This completes the basic steps for making a leaf tracing.

6

Make more leaf tracings using other colours and different leaf shapes.

Karakia Tamariki

Karakia Tamariki

Play Learn Grow early childcare (Kohungahunga ko Tākaro Ako Tipu) is so proud to share te reo Māori and Tikanga Māori in our everyday teachings. We have a number of staff with Māori whakapapa (ancestry) and even one whangai into Māori whanau. Unlike some others, we don’t just talk about it and alter our website a week or two before the Education Review Office is due to come in, to give some light window dressing.  We live and breathe te reo Māori and Tikanga Māori and have cultural advisors from Te Wānanga o Aoteoroa to ensure we are continually learning and growing too.

Play Learn Grow are so proud to incorporate the kaupapa (values) into our everyday teachings. We open meetings and close our kaiako (staff) meetings with karakia. Karakia are incantations and the ways that Māori communicated with the gods. This knowledge has been passed down from our ancestors over time. 

To help give our children the best start in life, we teach the Ministry of Education’s Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum. This gives all children the best start in life as they are active explorers, angels and future stars that need quality childcare and pre-school education.  

One of our staff in David is studying studying Tikanga Māori with Te Wānanga o Aoteoroa (despite this more challenging time with the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the rāhui (temporary restriction) that has come down from the Government). There were and are numerous kinds of karakia, our favourite are the beautiful childrens’ karakia (karakia tamariki) too. Thanks to Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Hoani Waititi Marae and Te Wānanga o Aoteoroa for their assistance in finding this Karakia tamariki for us to share to you.

Karakia tamariki to halt the rain:

E rere te kotare

Ki runga i te puwharawhara

Ruru ai ia o parirau

Kei maku o kuao i te ua

Mao, mao te ua

Fly o kingfisher

On to the bunch of astelia

And there shake your wings

Lest your young become wet by the rain

Cease, cease the rain.

TIME MANAGEMENT

1. Set goals correctly

Set goals that are achievable and measurable. Use the SMART method when setting goals. In essence, make sure the goals you set are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely.

2. Prioritise wisely

Prioritise tasks based on importance and urgency. For example, look at your daily tasks and determine which are:

  • Important and urgent: Do these tasks right away.
  • Important but not urgent: Decide when to do these tasks.
  • Urgent but not important: Delegate these tasks if possible.
  • Not urgent and not important: Set these aside to do later.

3. Set a time limit to complete a task

Setting time constraints for completing tasks helps you be more focused and efficient. Making the small extra effort to decide on how much time you need to allot for each task can also help you recognise potential problems before they arise. That way you can make plans for dealing with them.

For example, assume you need to write up five reviews in time for a meeting. However, you realise that you’ll only be able to get four of them done in the time remaining before the meeting. If you become aware of this fact well in advance, you may be able to easily delegate writing up one of the reviews to someone else. However, if you hadn’t bothered to do a time check on your tasks beforehand, you might have ended up not realising your time problem until just an hour before the meeting. At that point, it might be considerably more difficult to find someone to delegate one of the reviews to, and more difficult for them to fit the task into their day, too.

4. Take a break between tasks

When doing a lot of tasks without a break, it is harder to stay focused and motivated. Allow some downtime between tasks to clear your head and refresh yourself. Consider grabbing a brief nap, going for a short walk, or meditating/clearing your mind.

5. Organize yourself

Use your calendar for more long-term time management. Write down the deadlines for projects, or for tasks that are part of completing the overall project. Think about which days might be best to dedicate to specific tasks. For example, you might need to plan a meeting to discuss requests for capital on a day when you know the shareholders are available.

6. Remove non-essential tasks/activities

It is important to remove excess activities or tasks. Determine what is significant and what deserves your time. Removing non-essential tasks/activities frees up more of your time to be spent on genuinely important things.

7. Plan ahead

Make sure you start every day with a clear idea of what you need to do – what needs to get done THAT DAY. Consider making it a habit to, at the end of each workday, go ahead and write out your “to-do” list for the next workday. That way you can hit the ground running the next morning.

Implications of Poor Time Management

The consequences of poor time management include:

1. Poor workflow

The inability to plan ahead and stick to goals means poor efficiency. For example, if there are several important tasks to complete, an effective plan would be to complete related tasks together or sequentially. However, if you don’t plan ahead, you could end up having to jump back and forth, or backtrack, in doing your work. That translates to reduced efficiency and lower productivity.

2. Wasted time

Poor time management results in wasted time. For example, by talking to friends on social media while doing an assignment, you are distracting yourself and wasting time.

3. Loss of control

By not knowing what the next task is, you suffer from loss of control of your life. That can contribute to higher stress levels and anxiety.

4. Poor quality of work

Poor time management typically makes the quality of your work suffer. For example, having to rush to complete tasks at the last minute usually compromises quality.

5. Poor reputation

If clients or your employer cannot rely on you to complete tasks in a timely manner, their expectations and perceptions of you are adversely affected. If a client cannot rely on you to get something done on time, they will likely take their business elsewhere.

The first 1000 days!

The first 1000 days of an infant’s life is regarded the most important stage as this is when the human brain experiences expedential growth. There are many theories and philosophies which explain the importance of the first 1000 days of infants and toddlers. John Bowlbys theory of attachment posits that the development of an affectional bond between a child and an attachment figure is vital and thus plays an important role for kaiako in early childhood education. Healthy attachment is based on meeting a child’s needs for safety, protection and security – these are crucial for infancy and childhood. Developing an emotional bond with an adult, provides a child with a safe and secure environment. Making connections and building realtionships and trust leads to healthy cognitive and physical development. This essay will examine the theory of attachment and how important it is for brain development and biology of infants and toddlers –  which has longlasting implications for living a healthy adult life. I will also discuss how I practice pedagogy as an earlychildhood educator in relation to the first 1000 days of infants and toddlers and Te Whāriki.

Learning about and supporting a child’s first 1000 days is important as a kaiako because we are working with infants and toddlers everyday. We have an impact on their lifelong learning and development. Understanding the development and functions of infants and toddlers is a priority and responsibility of ours as early childhood practitioners. Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 2017) explains how one of the responsibilities of a kaiako is to gain knowledge about our children’s learning and development so that we can identify how they learn, what their strengths and interests are, and support positive learning trajectories. Understanding how our tamariki learn and exploring what makes them unique, will create an environment that will let their imagination and curious selves shine. Relationships are very important for brain development as this is how we learn to communicate. Neuron connectivity in our brain is supported by relationships – the connections between ourselves, others, and the world all contribute to neuron pathway building. The more connections that the brain develops in those first 1000 days the better developmentally for the child. McCaleb & Mikaere-Wallis (2005) explains that when you turn three years of age the limbic system is due to prune away all the unused connections, so if you are not making those neuron connections early, then they will drop off and disappear. That’s why if we have healthy, responsive relationships with whānau, kaiako and the community we are more likely to continue using these learned connections, continually growing developmentally.

A newborn depends on their primary caregivers for safety, protection and security as they cannot yet care for themselves. Wallis (2013) explains how the 0 – 3 year old brain needs to feel safe, secure and in partnership by people who adore them. These relationships will influence the ways people develop (i.e- influence who they are and how they see the world). Early childhood attachments also influence one’s wellbeing – both in infancy/childhood, and adulthood. The building blocks of creating an attachment relationship with an infant comes from feeding, bathing, changing nappies, comforting and holding them. Those are special moments where you connect, engage, make eye contact and nurture your baby. Rowley (2016) explains that when infants form a strong attachment, it lays down connections in the parts of the brain that are associated with memory and emotions. Bredekamp (2018) emphasizes how “early life experiences build the architecture of the brain” (p. 41). This is followed by Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 2017) which explains that responsive and reciprocal relationships will support our tamariki to try out their ideas and refine their working theories. The more time that they have feeling safe, secure and in partnership with a parent, kaiako, whānau, the better outcomes that they will have behaviorally and academically. Therefore, building those early relationships with tamariki and developing a secure attachment with infants and toddlers is incredibly important for them to optimise their capabilities for lifelong-learning.

Basic functions for the brainstem are breathing, heart rate and body temperature, the brainstem also activates the ‘freeze, fight or flight’ survival function. To learn effectively tamariki need to feel calm and safe, this is the first stage of brain development. The mid-brain is connected to motor development, while the limbic brain filters our emotions which helps us interact and communicate effectively with others. Finally, the cortex is part of our brain which has the ability to filter our emotions to think logically and abstractly. It is important for kaiako to understand each component of brain development so that we can understand what our tamariki need.

The foundations of the brain (brainstem), need to have strong and supporting walls (mid-brain, limbic); before the roof (cortix) can be fully developed. Gaining knowledge about brain development as kaiako is important so that we can understand the stages of the brain that will influence the readiness of how our tamariki learn.

Pedagogy is a way of teaching and how kaiako create an enviornment for our tamariki that will nurture and foster their learning and development. Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 2017) explain how curriculum and pedagogy can be practiced within an early childcare setting by influencing, supporting and guidancing a child’s development. Brain development is clearly linked with one of the curriculum principals ‘relationships’.

In conclusion, the first 1000 days of an infant’s life shows how much growth occurrs, especially regarding brain development. John Bowlby’s theory of attachment shows how attachment is a strong influencer of brain developent. If you have a secure attachment with a primary caregiver in the early years of life then your interactions with others develop important neuron connections within the brain. Building those important relationships with our tamariki is a vital part in early childhood education, making them feel included, secure and safe. Extensive research has shown how much the human brain grows in the first 1000 days, the environment that our tamariki are immersed in impacts their life experiences and the way they understand themselves and the world. In saying this, the absence of a supportive emotional environment can have negative effects on adulthood both mentally and physically, which is why early life experiences are so important. My pedagogy and assessment is based around the relationships that I have formed with our whānau and tamariki to create learning experiences that will benefit them and their development. As an early childcare teacher I want to contribute to help shape resilient learners and have an ever lasting impact on childrens’ lives and be apart of those important building foundations of their first 1000 days of life. 

3 simple tips for a calmer bedtime routine

Mindfulness is a bit of a buzz word but what does it really mean?  To be put simply, it is the practise of paying attention in the present moment – focussing on what is immediately in front of us.  Not worrying about what we have or haven’t done that day, and certainly not worrying about what we need to do in the future and our huge ‘to do’ list.    We could all benefit by finding ways to use it in our everyday lives, not least in our parenting roles.  2020 has been a tough year for everyone, it’s pretty hard to remain calm when there are so many unknowns.  The bedtime routine can become a gigantic struggle when we enter into it exhausted, stressed and with a cluttered mind.

On the parentingplace.nz website Shirley Pastiroff offers some great tips on how you can achieve a more peaceful bedtime routine with your children.  We all know how having a good sleep is key to having the best start to the next day, and of course for a child’s growth and development.

There are 3 key things that Shirley recommends we establish at bedtime:

  1. A great connection with your child
  2. Empathise with how disappointing it is that it’s bedtime (remember when you were a child and how you felt the same way!?)
  3. Stick to essential boundaries and offer help.

Connection:

We know from research that the most significant ingredient in a child’s development is the quality of the connection with their parent or primary caregiver.  It can feel like a huge responsibility at one level, but it simplifies parenting too.

Connection doesn’t always mean more time, just more eye contact, focus, listening and being curious about there world.   Whether you see them 12 hours a day, or just before and after work, there is usually the opportunity for slowing down and doing life at their pace for a little bit more of the day than we usually do.

Connecting through eye contact, high fives, fist pumps and cuddles are just some examples.

Empathy:

When we prioritise connection with them when they are awake, we still need to get them to bed!  Empathy is given for their emotions and boundaries are for their behaviour.

Examples

“I know you don’t want to put your pajamas on and get ready for bed, it’s annoying isn’t it it?”

“I understand you’d like to just stay up and play, it feels unfair that it is bedtime doesn’t it?”

When we empathise, we are telling our children we understand their emotions and we validate how they are feeling. 

Boundaries:

At bedtime there are a few things that need to happen, and these are the boundaries that we as parents set. 

PJ’s, bottle, nappies, bath and books (bath and books are a bonus – if there is time)

The boundary doesn’t sound cross or dominant, just factual and to the point.  The boundary itself (bedtime) isn’t up for discussion, only the process to get there.  And there are easy ways to involve our children in this process:

Some bedtime boundaries might sound like this:

“Can I help you brush your teeth or would you like to do it on your own?”

“Let’s chose your PJ’s together, which are your favourite ones?”

“Would you like a horseback ride or to be carried to bed toinght?”

Another way of positively enforcing boundaries during the bedtime routine is replacing IF with WHEN.

“If you get into bed, I will read you a book”

vs

“When you get into bed, I will read you a book”

Feel the difference? “If” feels optional and part of a negotiation process, whereas “when” is more direct and helps encourage positive behaviour.  “When you do this” rather than “If you do this”

Good luck with establishing connection, empathy and boundaries with your children at bedtime.  We know that if we’re in a calm state of mind, our children are more likely to be calm too – so it’s worth a shot right?!