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.

Being persistent and building resilience

Resilience is a skill that builds over a childs early years, it’s the ability to bounce back from stress, adversity, failure and challenges. This often forms from having a strong attachment with a primary caregiver or teacher that is respected and valued. The quality of that relationship we are able to create has a direct impact on the child’s sense of a safe and secure world. Working with our tamariki every day, we get a gauge of how they socially interact, how they move physically, their emotional well-being and how resilient they can be. We know their cues when they are feeling vulnerable or if they need that extra guidance and support.

My two-year old, Kawai experienced being persistent and building his resilience while riding his trike down a hill. He noticed another two year old riding his balance bike down a grassy slope, Kawai wanted to test himself to see if he could do that too. Off he went, on his trike and this is where the act of resilience comes to play through first-hand experience of taking on something that is challenging and pushing through being uncomfortable to overcome difficult situations. Te Whāriki explain how children demonstrate and show a “capacity of self-regulation and resilience in the face of challenges” (Ministry of Education, p. 27, 2017). This is exactly what happened with Kawai, the first three times down the hill he fell forward, but with persistence he wanted to keep going until he mastered the whole hill without falling off. I was right there, encouraging him and telling him to lean back and look forward. I was so proud of him, because even after falling off he wanted to go “again”. He took on my instruction and the emotion on his face when he got down to the bottom without falling off was a special moment, especially for his māmā.

Kawai has developed his resilience through the confidence that he has built within himself from his whānau role modelling a set of skills, which also promotes the concept of what resilience means for him. Learning dispositions and working theories are also interwoven within persistence and resilience and how our tamariki see themselves in their world.

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?

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. 

Toileting Tips

Tips for toileting:

1. Communication with the child, parent and teachers (about the process)

2. Positive words and encouragement

3. Realistic goal in mind (small steps)

4. Incentive or reward system (visual, simple)

5. Outcome/end result!

When starting the process of toilet training for young children, it is commonly appropriate to wait until the child is ready and shows an interest in wanting to toilet train. If the processed is rushed it can make children feel scared, forced and may even send the child’s progress backwards. It is important to make sure the child is aware of the situation, understand in small steps what the process and aim is, and have some incentive to help them achieve this goal.

Encouraging and reassuring the child that it is ok if they have accidents, so they do not feel or become embarrassed. Design a toilet chart, keep it positive and simple. Sticker charts or some form of visual reward system can be an incentive to maintain toilet training or help kick start the process. When the child can visually see that they are making progress this can be encouraging and see progress more effectively. Ages and stages make them appropriate and relevant to the child’s age, this way the child can feel more comfortable and able to commit to the process. Transition the child in time through the different stages and capability, at any time the child does not feel comfortable you can take breaks or use different techniques to help them, some of these maybe through songs or visual ques. Allow the child to process each stage and understand why they go onto the next stage. From nappies, pull ups, potty/toilet, undies, as the child becomes more confident the stages will become easier.

Discussing with the team (teachers)

The team should have an open discussion around the child who is toileting so they are on the same page and can help the child. Teachers who are not aware of children toileting or the different stages the child is at, may find it confusing and set the child back. The child may become stressed or uncomfortable with certain teachers helping them when toileting or become wet. Have a discussion around how and who will take what roles when toileting children. Depending on the child, some teachers may have less or a stronger bond with the child, therefore it is important to communicate and know the children. Understanding that it is ok if the child does not want to be changed and may request another teacher. Being open minded and sensitive to children’s needs around toileting and changing will the make the process a lot easier and smoother.

Discussion with the child;

It is important to talk with the child about the steps or process as this will make them feel more inclined to want to take part in their next journey of toileting. It will make it more comfortable and help them to understand what will happen, also allowing them to make choices for their own body and mind and understanding the process. Invite or encourage the child to make a chart of some kind that is visual and rewarding so they feel happier to be part of their own journey. Talk with the child about accidents and how to handle them, for example; its ok to have an accident, just make sure you let us know so we can help to change you. Take the opportunity to help the child understand their body if they ask (inform the parents too) and give them privacy when they ask, build the trust!

Discussion with the parents;

It is important to inform the parent about the child’s interest in toileting if the parents are not the ones who have requested the toilet training process or are not aware of the child’s need to toilet. Have an open discussion and see where the parents are on this journey for their child. If the parent becomes unwilling to start the process for whatever reason then, typically you do not push it, unless the child is at an age and is showing interest. It is important to show/teach the parent the benefits of the child starting the toileting and allow them to understand that they can have trust in you when toileting their child. Some parents may become stressed or concerned around the child have accident and unknown how teachers will handle it. Culturally they may do things differently. Have the open discussion and having a plan in action that the parents are happy with will the make the process more effective for the child.

From my own experience;

The biggest factors I have found to work when transitioning children from nappies to toileting and into undies is, have a strong relationship where the child have the trust in you, and wants your help when required. Keep the rewards or incentives relevant to the child (get the child to make the sticker chart) encourage the child daily, and if need be buddy them up with a friend. Try and give regular feedback to the parents about the child’s progress and help the parents to understand the importance of home centre link (vice versa) Make it fun!

Tuakana/ Teina

“Mā te tuakana ka tōtika te teina

Mā te teina ka tōtika te tuakana”

“From the older sibling the younger one learns the right way to do things, and from the younger sibling the older one learns to be tolerant”.

In te Ao Māori (the Māori world) the tuakana/teina concept is something that has always been around and used by our Tūpuna (ancestors). Tuakana/teina means an older sibling looking after the younger sibling. Now the tuakana/teina concept is being used in the education sector. It is when a more experienced person (no matter the age or sex) looks after or helps teach another person how to do something that they haven’t yet done or something they need to work on. When you use the tuakana/teina concept it is exactly the same as within a whānau context. You come together, help, support, and care for that person to do something. You hand down the skills and knowledge of how to accomplish something to the teina. Through tuakana/teina our tamariki (children) both younger and older, and who have more knowledge come together, they show each other compassion, aroha (love), tautoko (support), and manaaki (care) as they grow and learn. Through this concept of tuakana/teina they are also building relationships (whanaungatanga) with others.

The World Needs All Kinds of Minds

A Girl Who Thought in Pictures

During the lock down period I watched a movie calls THINKING IN PICTURES – MY LIFE WITH AUTISM. The film is based on the true story of Dr Temple Grandin who is an autistic woman, and how she became one of the top scientists in the humane livestock handling industry. I found this movie very interesting as it provided deep insight of her personal experience with autism. Dr Temple sees things, and thinks in picture which allows her to be talented in designing equipment for the livestock facility.

“I’m a visual thinker, not a language-based thinker. My brain is like google images.”

  ― Dr Temple Grandin

What Kind of Thinker Is Your Child?

Putting autism in the simplest terms is to describe it as a different way of processing information. It is undeniable that Autistic Disorder Spectrum (ASD) and its various syndromes are much more complex than that, but, thinking and information processing is at the root of ASD.

Dr Temples Grandin suggests that people with Autistic Disorder Spectrum tend to fall into one of three thinking styles: visual thinkers; pattern thinkers and verbal thinkers.

Visual Thinkers: Visual thinkers think more in images than words. They need to “see” things in order to understand them. They may have photographic memory like Dr Temple. Children who are visual thinkers will often be good at drawing, other arts and building things.

Pattern Thinkers: Pattern thinkers find patterns in design, math, music and more in their daily lives. They tend to love their routines and that all things move and progress in a pattern they can understand and replicate. They get frustrated by sudden change or irregularity.

Verbal Thinkers: Verbal thinkers like words and speech. They are good at learning a foreign language. They love making lists and will often memorise facts and very specific things such as timetables, routes and stories.