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Manaakitanga in ECE

Mā te huruhuru, ka rere te manu.

Adorn the bird with feathers, so it can fly. (Whakataukī – Māori proverb)

At Play Learn Grow early childcare education centre we have a number of kaiako (teachers) with māori whakapapa (ancestry). This is why we are so passionate about Te Whāriki. He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa – the early childcare education curriculum for Aoteoroa (New Zealand).

We demonstrate manaakitanga which is a crucual Māori principle that is at the heart of Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa. We consider manaakitanga to be the process of enhancing peoples mana, by showing care, respect, kindness and generosity for others.

Manaakitanga weaves in to the strands of the ECE curriculum. The Ministry of Education state: “Children’s learning and development are fostered if the well-being of their family and community is supported; if their family, culture, knowledge and community are respected; and if there is a strong connection and consistency among all the aspects of the child’s world”. This is where manaakitanga comes in looking at pre-schoolers well-being in a holistic sense.

Manaakitanga at Play Learn Grow ECE

We kōrero with children about sharing (why it is important, praising good behaviours, politely pointing out not such good behaviour), kaitiakitanga (caring for the environment, another tikanga māori principle), welcoming new whānau (mihi whakatau or shorted pōwhiri for whānau of bigger kids) and settling periods as tamariki transition from home to Play Learn Grow ECE, or from another centre. We teaching care and respect for other tamariki, for our outdoor play area resources and indoor resources. Our kaiako to guide tamariki to set ground rules, and we remind tamariki if or when there is a rule breach of the rules they contributed to setting.

We do a short karakia before eating lunch, as we are thankful for it, and we build and nurture strong relationship with parents and staff. Play Learn Grow teachers create an environment of respect where our highly skilled teachers develop tamariki to grow and develop physically, mentally, socially, whilst playing and learning.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic we had visited places in the community. I took my kids to a local rest home to bring smiles on the faces of the elderly. We reach out to local schools and visit them to ensure the transition is not too hard. We listen to concerns of parents about sending in children into school environments with many hundreds of children, and to ease concerns we keep children past age 5 (tamariki have to go to school by their 6th birthday though). During changes in Alert Levels we communicate with whānau and stay open to serve the needs of Auckland’s essential workers (without other childcare options), even when some other centres stay shut.

Play Learn Grow teachers have completed or are enrolled in the Incredible Years Programme on child behaviour and management techniques. This is best practice, which certainly not every centre has their staff doing. However this is an important for Play Learn Grow teachers as we strive to be the best ECE centre in West Auckland.

Manaakitanga is all about caring and support for tamariki (children) – pre-schoolers in Play Learn Grow ECE), whānau (family) and kaiako (teachers). The Play Learn Grow culture is just so special to be a part of, and manaakitanga being so engrained in it by our Centre Manager, fellow kaiako, whānau and of course our beautiful tamariki. This to me is what sets out Play Learn Grow as the best ECE centre in West Auckland, and the best out of so many I have worked up over many years.