I am honoured with raising 3 children.
All 3 of our kids have gone or go to Matua Plunket Kindergarten.
Our family LOVE our kindy.
Here are some of the reasons i, mama bear, am stoked our tamariki get to go to Matua Plunket Kindy.
– The teachers are remarkable. They are caring (loving actually), they are firm BUT kind, they are consistent (all the things Nathan Mikaere-Wallis says are good for brain development).
– The teachers are all committed to the world and well-being of young children (attending workshops in school holidays/weekends to learn alternative or fresh ways to be with our young).
– My experience is, they notice and care about my well-being as a mother, and the health of our whole family also.
– Each of the 5 full time staff are mothers and/or grandmothers (some with Primary School aged children). They are all different and bring unique qualities, passions and skills to the kindy space/kids. These variances make for a well-rounded team, and yet a very harmonious one too. Claire has 2 boys who go to a small country school. Jo loves antiques and gardening. Julie is a great knitter and active grandma. Tracy looks like moving-art with her ever-changing hair, colourful outfits, and painted nails, and makes nothing a problem, where most people would. Belinda sometimes brings in her two black labs and strums happy birthday on the ukelele, when Claire isn’t. This calm, qualified team, are always welcoming and embrace the opportunity to nurture our community, by making hummus and carrot sticks with the kids, planting and harvesting strawberries, rearing butterflies, hauling out heavy ropes and equipment for kids to construct with, pouring little espresso cups with hot chocolate at ‘butterfly cafe’ and setting up a sprinkler on hot summer afternoons.
– The environment is both peaceful and ‘free’. Children can flow in and outside as they please. As parents, we are encouraged to pack extra clothes, so kids can get wet, or sandy, or muddy and interact with the environment as kids love to do.
– I am welcome anytime. There’s a couch or two i breastfed on, read stories to kids on, sat and knitted on, watched my children play and learn from, looked like a unbrushed haired, tracksuit wearing, up too many times in too many nights, zombie mother.
– I’ve learned lots of great catch phrases from the teachers, and more successful and patient ways to help my kids resolve arguments/squabbles over toys etc e.g. Jo taught me, “I need you to…” rather than (a subtle but the difference between success and failure) “You need to get your gumboots.” OR, i need you to be ‘friendly’ with our visitors, rather than that insipid, overused, meaningless word ‘I need you to be nice’.
– The teachers are champions for our kids, and champions for a healthy partnership between ‘us and them’ e.g. i said to Tracy, i am having trouble getting back into the car with my toddler (he’s doing the arch the back, go stiff, routine). She suggested singing the ‘command/request’: “We’re going home in the car, home in the car, home in the car”. Another time i said: he’s whinging to be picked up whilst i’m in the middle of cooking dinner. Her response: “Well he’s learning to be independent, but he’s still young, and sometimes he needs to revert back to being babied as he finds his way.” I like that the staff at Matua Plunket Kindy are empathetic both to me and the kids, whilst providing tools for me to be a more relaxed, mindful, happy parent.
– They settled my kids in with sensitivity. Managing the dual task of meeting my and the needs of ‘my’ children, by orchestrating things so i could leave e.g. by helping my kids find an activity they enjoyed, or taking them by the hand and making them feel safe and ‘not alone’.
– Eco. The equipment is mostly wood. They provide resources from the natural world for children to engage with e.g. shells, flowers, leaves.
– There’s a quiet room filled with ‘antique’ things, so children experience a contrasting aesthetic.
– The environment is simple. ‘Play’ or ‘exploration’ areas are set up and children can engage and re-engage with these areas as they feel.
– I watch the teachers mostly ‘observe’ the play BUT remain on the periphery available to offer suggestions to the students of how to relate to each other more harmoniously.
– The space is warm and sunny. There’s a beautiful flowering cherry tree for Springtime. Inside is about as big as outside. And it’s just the right size for a little person, with some more tucked away areas, around corners, and nothing too sprawling to feel overwhelmed with.
– My kids can go as little or as much as they (or i) like to kindy. They have half days, full days, and casual days. I think this is very healthy for a (one-income re: needing flexibility) family. They provide a genuine community service, one that supports the well-being of the carer, where Mum/Dad/Caregiver can get some respite when needed. This is aroha. This is whanau.
– I appreciate that the kids can sit at tables and chairs for their meals and i would love to see school find a way to provide this so the communion of sharing kai together is embraced and facilitated.
– I personally am drawn to Pennie Brownlee (a writer/an educator for parents and teachers) and some of the practices from Rudolf Steiner. I recognise both of these influences at Matua Kindy. The teachers tell stories with repetition, using props / handmade figurines at quiet time. There are some handmade (by the teachers during a Children’s Circle night workshop) ‘Steiner’ dolls, the children love. The natural world, complete with seasons and rituals are cherished. There’s a sense of celebration, occasion and being grateful for our planet and the fruits it bears. So for those you can’t stomach the drive to Welcome Bay, Matua Kindy provides a space ‘in between’.
– The Kindy uses the Virtues Programme.
– Another VERY LARGE positive (especially in my husband’s eyes) is that kindy borders Matua Primary School. So the kindy graduates, get to run to their siblings and former teachers, hang over the fence for a chin wag. As kindy kids they get to see the school from afar, the buildings, the uniforms, the stray soccer balls, the big kids strong bodies running on the long field.
– I value my childrens’ and indeed my own/our family’s wellbeing, and the state of their mind and ‘soul’ for want of a less spiritual term. Do they feel happy? Are they developing resilience? Can they express their needs and wants? Can they relate to others? Can they be kind? Are they allowed to be a child? Are they allowed to be wild aka free aka unbridled aka something of the elements or of nature? NB: by wild i refer to “living or growing in the natural environment” rather than “menacing”. Do they feel listened to, and noticed? Can i give them environments and opportunities to be still, to be calm, to feel relaxed? Can they be whole? Can i allow them to be? Finding and/or providing conditions and environments for them (and me) to thrive in this way is important to me. I find this at Matua Plunket Kindergarten.