Kindergarten was founded in Germany in the 19th century, its name translated from the German and meaning ‘children’s garden’. Although many people know ‘kindergarten’ as a catch-all for all kinds of early-childhood education, it has always had a unique philosophy all of its own.
Kindergarten’s founder, Frederick Froebel, wanted to create “both a garden for children, a location where they can observe and interact with nature, and also a garden of children, where they themselves can grow and develop.”
Over the years, researchers and educators have discovered that Froebel had a lot right; children really do learn better when it’s done at their own pace and through their own interests, and nature has a big role to play in fostering creativity, resilience and health.
That’s why you’ll find Great Big Backyards in our kindergartens, offering lots of space to explore, and natural wonders to discover.
Kindergarten delivers the New Zealand curriculum, Te Whāriki, using a Learning Through Play model. This means we work with children to explore their own interests in their own time and encourage their curiosity to want to know more. In turn, they become motivated to further explore, and the foundations are laid for life-long learning.
The kindergarten focus is as much on social and emotional development as it is on what people sometimes call ‘teaching and learning’. Our experienced, fully trained teaching teams are committed to supporting each child to gain the ability to work, learn, and get along with others while being in a caring, stable and happy environment.
Smaller class sizes mean that the programme is customised for each individual. Learning happens best when children are excited by, and engaged with, their environment, peers and other adults. Children also blossom when they have the opportunity to test their newfound ideas and skills with the guidance of trained, experienced teachers.
Kindergarten’s traditional role as the stepping stone to school remains as important as ever, and our services work closely with local primary schools and new entrant teachers to make the transition into school life successful for you and your child.
Whānau are encouraged to be as involved in the life of their kindergarten as they want to be, and it’s a great place to meet other families with children of similar ages.
While children once needed to wait until three-and-a-half to attend kindergarten, families can now enjoy its benefits from two years of age (and at Kidsfirst Diamond Harbour or Niu from birth). We recognise the value of kindergarten for younger children, so even from two years of age can get 20 Hours Free.
You can find out more about why kindergarten is #betterbecause.