Whilst our community online is thriving and connecting us with whānau from places like Ireland, Malaysia, Egypt and Turkey, the Kidsfirst Kindergartens in Canterbury and the West Coast were founded on their relationships with local primary schools.
OUR TOP STORIES:
Often the two buildings were built side by side, such as in the case of Kidsfirst Diamond Harbour (pictured above on Diamond Harbour School's grounds), Kidsfirst Parklands, Kidsfirst Bromley, Kidsfirst Sumner, Kidsfirst Belfast and Kidsfirst Ngaire Larcombe.
At Kidsfirst Kindergartens, our staff foster relationships with school teachers at local schools, and often take kindergarten trips to the classrooms and playgrounds that the children will be using when they move on.
ABOVE: One of the boards at Kidsfirst Shirley.
Kidsfirst Cotswold Ave Head Teacher Kathy Harford tries to take the children transitioning each year over for as many visits to Cotswold School as possible.
“The new entrant teacher comes over and reads books with the children as well. Recently we were invited to go and see the hangi being lifted and we spend some time with the whole school in assembly singing songs.”
Transitioning the children in a safe and smooth way is important because it means that they can become familiar with their new learning environment before the child’s fifth birthday.
Cathy says, “I am very passionate about good transitions because as we all know, change can be stressful, and the better informed we are, the easier it is, for all of us. Children are no different.”
ABOVE: Children at Kidsfirst Parklands, looking through from their visit to Parklands School back into the kindergarten.
Jill Chatterton, Head Teacher at Kidsfirst Kaiapoi North, feels exactly the same way.
“We have had a close liaison with our local schools for many years. It is important that we are the professionals at the beginning of the children’s learning journey.”
“Robust discussion is important, and as teachers, we need to be able to discuss theorists, and how our philosophies impact on the teaching across different learning environments.”
She values the visits they receive back from the children and teachers to Kidsfirst Kaiapoi North, and appreciates being included in concerts that happen at Kaiapoi North School.
Head Teacher at Kidsfirst Burnham, Birgit Bracewell, comments that “this connection gives children a sense of being place-based, a link with the school and a sense of community outside of the kindergarten walls.”
The children at Kidsfirst Burnham have a strong connection with Burnham School, visiting during kindergarten hours with their parents, planting trees on the grounds and singing them waiatas. Being mindful that not every child is a local in Burnham, the teachers also strive to maintain links with Rolleston School, whose Jump Jam team comes to Kidsfirst Burnham to share their knowledge and work together.
At Kidsfirst Bush Street in Rangiora, teacher Melinda McGregor is passionate about the child's transition to school. There is a process that the kindergarten teachers go through to make sure that not just every child is made to feel comfortable, but the teachers as well.
ABOVE: Mrs Williams from Swannanoa School visiting Lucas from Kidsfirst Bush Street.
“We invite the new entrant teachers and Principals to Kidsfirst Bush Street to visit prior to the child starting. This is a great opportunity for the teacher to get to know the child as a confident, competent child in their own space – kindergarten.”
Teachers often find the profile books of each child a great resource which gives them a better understanding of children’s learning history, their interests and their family. It also helps them immensely when the child enters a new entrants’ classroom for the first time.
“We are an active member of the Early Years North Canterbury Group, where twice a year both the primary and early childhood sectors come together and focus on transition. Last term we held it here at Kidsfirst Bush Street and we had several parents come along to share their transition to school stories. It was really constructive for everyone to hear this from parents, who directly see and experience the benefits,” says Melinda.
Kidsfirst Bush Street often has visits from local schools’ Kapahaka groups, and junior choirs. The annual trikeathon will be held on the school’s grounds as well.
Recently, Kidsfirst Ilam have been working hand in hand with Westburn Primary School, both taking their oldest children over and welcoming the new entrants back for a morning.
"This reciprocal relationship really strengthens our ties with the school. When we took our kindergarteners over to Westburn, we also stayed for morning tea break to gain an understanding of the expectations during this time, including what to do when the bell rings," says teacher Julie O'Flaherty from Kidsfirst Ilam.
They also prioritise writing a letter of introduction to the new entrant’s teacher, which includes the latest learning stories, and give it to the child’s parent’s to share during the transition-to-school visits.
All of these intentional gestures and experiences add up to helping children adjust to school as easily as possible. Our hope is that Kidsfirst is just the beginning of an exciting learning journey that continues for many years.
Moving from kindergarten to school is an exciting stage for children; here is how we support that transition at Kidsfirst Kindergartens.
From the teachers:
Our children are learning they can be comfortable in new surroundings. We visit the school grounds for many experiences: going on a picnic, having fun running from fence to fence, or using this space to create our own games.
The school field provides the children with an additional sense of discovery as they have the space to explore: to view the clouds, find small creatures and discover the changes in nature.
A recent discovery has been what it looks like to be looking back at kindergarten through our viewing window between school and kindergarten (see picture on the left).
The children become familiar with the school grounds and this ensures they are more confident when starting school.
Seeing the Parkview Room 11 school buddies teaching the kindergarteners a new skill - Loom Bands - was brilliant.
As I went around the groups it was evident how much concentration it took to create the loom bands in the form of bracelets, rings and necklaces. Tino pai rawa atu - very, very good excellent.
This shared experience provided new learning and an appreciation of a complex, but simple creation.
With the time together we encourage all the children to get to know each other more and it is rewarding to see tuikana/teina occurring naturally as the children learn and share knowledge and skills together.
Having a buddy at school and being used to the school environment helps successfully transition children into school
- Kidsfirst Parklands Head Teacher Cindy Snelson
KIDSFIRST KINDERGARTENS ARE A NOT FOR PROFIT ASSOCIATION THAT HAS DEVELOPED AND MAINTAINED KINDERGARTENS IN CHRISTCHURCH, CANTERBURY AND ON THE WEST COAST FOR OVER 100 YEARS - AS THE PLACE LOCAL KIDS COME TO LEARN, PLAY AND HAVE FUN.