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Nau Mai Haere mai. Welcome to Mairtown Kindergarten's blog.

21 Princes Street, Kensington, Whangarei, New Zealand

Phone: 09 437 2742

Email: mairtown@nka.org.nz

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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Culture of caring

The only way to have a friend is to be one - Ralph Waldo Emerson
Returning after a summer break is always a time filled with anticipation and excitement for our children and their families at Mairtown. Catching up with familiar faces and meeting knew children makes for a buzz of energy.

It was so lovely witnessing friendships being rekindled and their play taking off just where it left off at the end of last year. Some of the children reflected on how they had missed each other whilst on holiday.
“I missed Tiaki this holiday and playing running games and being cheeky.” (Taika)
“You know I missed Sharlotte so much when I was up north.” (Charlie)

“When I was camping I missed Nyla.” (Sienna)
“I missed Donna and all the teachers, even you. And I missed all the children. It’s been nice coming back aye.” (Tyler)
“I love friends.”
“I love friends too.”
“It makes us good to have friends’ aye.” (Kayla and Matteo)

"Friendship interactions are vital for the healthy development of children, and may result in heightened self-esteem, positive self-identity, effective communication, as well as successful cognitive, social and conceptual development” (Haslett and Samter, 1997).

We also have lots of new children who have just started kindergarten. This can be an overwhelming time for our new friends who have to learn about all our routines and rituals, as well as being a part of a large group. Here at kindergarten we are really lucky to have such wonderful children who demonstrate great rangatiratanga (leadership) skills. Our older children have been wonderful at making our new children feel welcomed. Caring gestures such as kindly telling them where to place their cup after they have finished having a drink, where they can find tissues, how we put our felt pens in certain jars are just a few of the lovely interactions that I have seen take place over the past week. Though these gestures might seem small, they are very influential in terms of fostering our new children’s sense of belonging and well-being.

“I showed the new kid how to put the pens in the right colour jars.” (Charlie)

“Excuse me, you need to put your cup here, ok.” (Toby talking to one of the new children)

Te Whariki recognises that, “Children should experience an environment where they feel comfortable with the routines, customs and regular events in the early childhood education setting…  This setting should be like a caring home: a secure and safe place where each member is entitled to respect and to the best of care. The feeling of belonging, in the widest sense, contributes to inner well-being, security, and identity.”

I have seen our children include our new friends in their play, share resources with them and make time for them in caring and respectful ways. There has been lots of helping and making sure everyone knows where things go, where to find resources and how we come together at whānau time (when we eat kai) and so on. This is a great example of our children displaying traits of tuakana-teina, a Te Ao Māori concept.
Rawlings and Wilson (2013) quote that, “The concept of tuakana-teina is not new, and within a kaupapa Māori context it literally means an older sibling looking after a younger sibling. However, in the learning context it has taken on the meaning of a more experienced student (tuakana/mentor) looking after and guiding a newer student (teina/mentee) in a holistic manner.”

I feel so proud that our children are displaying such caring characteristics and I believe that one of the reasons that this is taking place is because we have a culture of respect and care at Mairtown Kindergarten. Manaakitanga underpins our philosophy here and as teachers we work hard to role model interactions that support this.
“Manaakitanga relates to the finer qualities of people rather than just possessions. It is the principle quality of caring, kindness, hospitality, and showing respect for others. To exhibit manaakitanga is to raise ones mana (manaaki) through generosity.” (Henare, 2005)

Through caring for our new children in such a respectful and welcoming way, we (the teachers and the children) are able to begin building significant relationships with them, which once again fosters a wonderful sense of belonging. This leads to children making meaningful connections and nurtures significant friendships. The concept of whanaungatanga, which encompasses building and maintaining relationships and links strongly to people having a sense of belonging, can be seen through friendships that are established at kindergarten.

ECE Educate acknowledges that, “Relationships are a source of learning, empowerment, and identity for all of us. This is reflected in the concept of whanaungatanga.”

I would like to thank our children for being so responsible, caring and respectful. You are such wonderful role models for our new friends. With this in mind, welcome to all our new friends and families at Mairtown. We hope that you feel welcomed, comfortable and that your time spent with us is full of joy.

“Whanaungatanga is about knowing you are not alone, and that you have a wider set of acquaintances that provide support, assistance, nurturing, guidance and direction when needed.” (Broadly and Williams, 2012)

Ngā mihi nui, Zair

1 comment:

www.firstdoor.com.au said...

Love this blog on welcoming children, building connections and belonging. Thank you for this beautiful inspiration Mairtown Kindergarten. Shared on www.facebook.com/firstdoortraining