Playing is learning is growing
As fully qualified teachers, our kaiako make intentional choices on how they facilitate, structure and lead play-based learning experiences. The goal of every curriculum is to support, nurture and enable the holistic development of each child’s Hinengara (Cognitive), Tinana (Physical), Whatumanawa (Emotional) and Wairu (Spiritual) development. As trained teachers, our kaiakodo this by providing the right level of challenge for each tamaiti and implementing learning experiences for tamariki guided towards specific learning outcomes.
As humans, all aspects of our development are closely interlinked. For instance, when we gain new physical skills, such as the strength and agility to hang from and cross the monkey bars, it can increase our self-esteem; physical activity increases blood circulation thus increasing cognitive perception –maths in action can be applied as children determine mass time’s velocity and how to increase their swing to travel further. Being physically active in the green, luscious and park-like settings of an NKA kindergarten brings all these aspects together as well as connecting us with the Spirituality of the natural world. Trained kaiako, versed in the theory behind their mahi, are able to guide children’s imaginations and spirits through learning experiences that appear to unfold quite effortlessly.
Another example of play-based learning might be in group situations where children are presented with the problem of how to share tools, toys and experiences. With gentle guidance from kaiako that respects the mana of each tamaiti, children become problem solvers (how do we take turns? how can we share?), leaders (suggesting solutions, including others), and creative thinkers (if you hold this doll’s hand, and I hold the other, then we are playing together). Though seemingly basic, sharing is a foundational concept in cultivating a peaceful, equitable and inclusive society of kind, creative individuals.
These are just a few examples of what enabling the holistic development of a child means; our kaiako support all aspects of a child’s development harmoniously and simultaneously. In this way children enjoy scaffolding lifelong learning – each experience blends into and prepares them for the next, and before they know it, their development has climbed great new heights. Kindergarten does not teach children fractionated skill sets (colouring in, for example) but holistic skill sets (drawing from the imagination) and transferrable skill sets (able to apply the fine motor skills gained from drawing to sewing, for instance). In this way, children become well-rounded, resilient individuals capable of adapting skills across all areas of life, education and personal growth. Most importantly, they learn how to use existing skills and knowledge in order to gain new skills and knowledge; in other words, kindergarten equips children to become lifelong learners.