I have been working with child psychologists as we prepare to welcome children back to Cherry Grove at Alert Level 2 to make sure we are doing everything we can to ensure a smooth transition for tamariki. This has been an unprecedented time for our generation and it's important that we acknowledge changes have occurred to the way we live and it has affected us all in different ways.
Many parents are understandably worried about how their children will adapt to yet another change to life as they know it, but we want you all to know - Your Child Will Be Fine! Why? They have YOU - a caring parent(s) that has/have been a constant through all the transitions we have adapted to and embraced as a nation.
It has been a strange time but we have all done our part and as parents YOU have been amazing. The gift of time has been a surprising 'cherry on top' over this period, and we are so delighted to hear and see the incredible things you have all been doing in your bubbles. We can't wait to see you on Monday and begin a new normal with our community. Ka rawe Cherry Grover's, we are almost back!
Our current wellbeing focus has a big movement aspect to it and here's why we have and continue to invest heavily in giving our Cherry Grover's lots of active options!
Numerous reports show that active play during the first five years of a child's life is essential for their wellbeing and happiness. In fact, health, wellbeing, and active play are considered so important that the United Nations convention has recognised it as part of the rights of a child. Active play has been shown to increase the wellness of children through mental health, behaviour, improved movement and gross motor development, competent skills and agility, and brain development including communication, emotional, and social functioning.
For the last 16 months, Cherry Grove Childcare and Family Centre has engaged the services of Coach Tom from Playball who does sessions of active play each week for our children aged between 2 and 5 years of age.
Playball is designed to spark a child's love of sport with fun interactive games to encourage participation, confidence, and build a healthy self-image. Active time like this is important to improve basic movement, enhance gross motor development, and for refining sports abilities and techniques. Our playball programmes that Coach Tom provides to our Cherry Grover’s are age specific with each of the sessions taking into account the difference in the cooperative, emotional, and social development of the children in each group. On top of that, children are taught to listen to instructions, to observe demonstrations attentively, to concentrate while attempting the skills, and to value participating in a group environment. This also allows our Cherry Grover’s to learn respect for others, cooperate well, take turns, be flexible, and be a good sport to those they are playing with.
It is very important for young children to learn confidence in how to play well with others. As a result, all of our sports programming at Cherry Grove is non-competitive and designed to provide all children with the opportunity to participate in their own way and at their own ability. This allows children to experience sport as a happy and positive one.
Both Cherry Grove and Playball uses a variety of sports equipment that is designed to be fun and keep children focused on engagement. Through enjoyment, research has shown that children learn to love sport if they are able to contribute in an engaging environment where they are fully supported to be the best they can be. This allows the confidence and motivation to continue on at more competitive sports levels as a child develops and grows.
Cherry Grove has a large outdoor park type of setting to allow for lots of different movement experiences for our children. Sport New Zealand has shown that movement experiences in the earlier years need to be wider that just developing physical skills or learning competencies that allow the children to be involved in sports.
Sport New Zealand uses a physical literacy approach that suggests under 5 year old's require physical movement in everyday life environments, including nature, in order to encourage creativity, imagination, and exploration. For this reason, Cherry Grove also uses play, along with structured sessions, as an essential way for children to be able to use movement through a wide range of experiences. Play is voluntary, instinctive, creative, and adaptive, and a universal behaviour that is fun and performed with no goal in mind. This allows children to be active and make sense of their world without limitations imposed by kaiako unnecessarily. Quality play takes many forms such as, rough and tumble, imaginative, locomotive, and decision making around risks and challenges.
Movement for wellbeing and development must include children experiencing a mix of adult-lead activities and opportunities to be active without excess adult interference in a variety of difference environments. Using both these teaching strategies allows all tamariki to positively gain from movement in their world.
Tomorrow at Cherry Grove is Fun Friday and while we can't share it together personally, we can get active with some Jump Jam from our bubbles. I urge bubbles to virtually join me and have some fun jump jamming our way through Fun Friday at Alert Level 4.
Wishing all our families a happy day of wellness tomorrow and every day xx
Mōrena Cherry Grove
It's certainly an interesting time that we are currently facing as a nation and it was lovely to hear from parents this morning how nice it was coming into Cherry Grove where everything is going on as normal! Every day is a new learning adventure for our tamariki so we are continuing with our usual protocols but have just added some further administration behind the scenes to ensure we can stay 'normal'.
Can I just take a moment to thank all our families and staff who were traveling last week for self-isolating - I am extremely grateful to you all for thinking about the health and safety of our Cherry Grove community. We have five families affected by Covid-19 thus far and ask that if you do have contact with people who have traveled in the last 14 days to contact me as soon as possible.
It's a very Autumnal day out there so gumboots and extra layers will be in full use today. Our new teacher for Buds, Melissa, has started with us and is enjoying getting to know our tamariki. We are so pleased to have her with us, she has so much experience with toddlers and is passionate about this age group. Lauren Bird is also doing some relieving for us in the Blossom/Cherry room. Lauren is in her second year of ECE training and is loving being part of Cherry Grove so much, she has asked to join us as her home Centre! We have happily said yes as her references were amazing and look forward to having Lauren join us.
Kudeep is cooking up a Winter warmer today, the tamariki are having spaghetti crunchies and sausages! Something completely different for our tamariki and our Chef to cook - thanks Nicole for thinking of a fun menu this week.
No Coach Tom today as he is sick, so we have set up lots of biking activities to keep those that are choosing to be outside warm! There are plenty of indoor activities on the go including a hair dressing salon in Busy Bee's this morning - thanks Willa and Sheree for the services you are providing to everyone today!
Have a lovely St Patrick's Day Cherry Grover's - may the luck of the Irish be with you!
Kia ora Cherry Grover's
During the last 24 hours New Zealand has announced tighter border controls in response to the COVID-19 outbreak to slow the rate of infection. While the restrictions only take effect from midnight tonight, we have been in contact with all Cherry Grove families that have traveled overseas during the last week and asked them to self-isolate as a precaution. The health and wellbeing of our Cherry Grove tamariki and whanau are extremely important and while there is no legislative requirement for these families to self-isolate, they have all agreed to in order to minimise the risk to our vulnerable community.
To make sure we are continuing to be proactive in this area, can anyone that has been in contact with overseas travelers during the last week also contact me so we can best manage these cases as well. We are using daily advice from Ministry of Education for ECE providers, which supports our stance on this given the limited immunity most of our community has due to their age. Everyone has a role to play in minimising the risk of spread in New Zealand and we will be doing our part and taking a hard line on this to protect the welfare of everyone at Cherry Grove.
Our Emergency Management Plan (EMP) is also ready to be implemented should a forced closure ensue. As part of our EMP we have a text alert system that allows us to be in contact with everyone at very short notice. As an ECE provider we undergo an EMP procedure with HSM every three months. Everything from lockdowns to evac’s are covered to ensure our tamariki are well supported in any emergency. As it happens, our next scheduled EMP scenario is on Thursday (19th) at 9am and we will be simulating an emergency closure with HSM.
As previously stated in earlier correspondence, we will continue to focus on good hygiene practices here at Cherry Grove. Hand washing and good cough etiquette are very important tools in preventing the spread of illness including colds, flu, and COVID-19.
We will continue to keep our community updated as and when the situation changes and ask for your understanding and support on this matter. If you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Regards and thanks,
Happy Wednesday to you! It has started with a hiss and a bang and lots of swinging, dancing, and a new activity we like to call biking football! It's a lot like polo but with bikes, goals and a football - thanks to our Blossom tamariki for bringing this game to life this morning and all the fun we had with it!
The morning has continued with great pace with plenty of sand play, face painting, gluing, reading, and Andrea from Ministry of Education has been here working with our learning support tamariki.
Kudeep is tempting the taste buds already as the korma is slow cooking and the smells are divine! Today the tamariki will be dining on Chicken Korma with Broccoli for lunch, perfect as the weather cools off this afternoon. As with all our baking we had a healthy version of shortbread for morning tea with a selection of pears, peaches, and bananas.
This Fun Friday we are all about kota (shells) so if you have any left over from your Summer holidays that we could use, please bring them in and we will put them to good use. Thank you to all of our parents who have added to our collection as we have some very crafty ideas for Friday!
The middle of the week is already upon us and there is so much more to explore, learn, and develop. Lucky for us we are not in a rush and our tamariki competently lead the way. By giving our Cherry Grover's the time and space to learn at their own pace, their natural instincts take over and they become intuitive learners that ironically learn more over time and their individual experiences are far more enriched. Research tells us that if children develop at their own pace, they create their own perceptions through taking on information they see as relevant and pertinent. It may not be in the same order of importance as an adult sees it, but a child takes it on in a way they can recall and remember it. I am always in awe that children intrinsically know their own learning style better than any adult ever will. We just need to trust a child's processing and perception and that's what a play-based learning environment allows. We are all turtles really - and now at Cherry Grove we are turtles that play biking football
All our rooms at Cherry Grove have a large array of books that are constantly changing, added to, read, transported, read again, looked at, shared, and loved. We love reading as it provides children with such wonderful opportunities to experience communication that is received and can be returned. It allows children to question, develop understanding, grow their ideas, and spend valuable time with kaiako and peers.
A recent study found that young children who are read five books a day enter schooling having heard about 1.4 million words more than tamariki who are never read to (Logan, 2019 Ohio State University). Jessica Logan, who led the research, believes it could be one explanation for the differences in vocabulary and reading development of young children. The study found that children who are read to are better prepared to see those words in print when they enter school and are more likely to pick up reading skills more quickly and easily.
Logan was quick to point out in her research that it wasn't about the amount of every day communication a child heard but that children who are read to hear much more complex and wider variety of words than just the talking of parents and kaiako about daily rhythms and routines. This week I have already read a book called the A to Z of Sharks, In the Beginning, In the Garden, Ziggy Zebra, and Richard Scarry's Busy Town - and it's only Monday! That means I have engaged with our tamariki about carpet sharks, Tangaroa's gifts, eggs, France, zebra friends, snails, Lowly Worms apple car, and Banana Gorilla's unfortunate accident. These are generally not everyday conversations I have but there was plenty of learning going on for this kaiako and the tamariki around her!
Reading is unquestionably a fundamental part of development as it extends the mind, furthers communication skills, embraces a child's imagination, broadens knowledge, and is the perfect vehicle for spending focused time with children. We continue to buy new books every month at Cherry Grove as we are firm believers in the power of reading time and the learning opportunities it provides for our tamariki. You will always see our kaiako with books reading to a captive audience of one to 20 - and when our lovely local librarians arrive the numbers swell even more!
We are celebrating our current focus, Tangaroa, with a Sea Books, Legends, and Songs day this Fun Friday. We have the local librarians coming to read with us and bring lots of different books about Tangaroa and the sea to enjoy. Do you have any sea books at home that you would like to enjoy with your children this week? Let's get our Cherry Grover's being read to so they can reap the rewards of hearing more words. This also feels like the perfect opportunity to giveaway five books to one lucky family - see our Facebook page for details!
School readiness is something we have worked hard on with our local schools and continue to do so. There are plenty of things we can do to help make the transition from ECE to Primary School smooth for our tamariki. Last year we had a great Transition to School Evening which was attended by the new entrant teachers from our three local schools. They came together and put a list of attributes that all three schools felt were important to provide a smooth and positive transition to school. These included a child being able to independently:
While ABC's won't help a child learn most of these skills, they were certainly help a child learn their ABC's as independence and a great sense of belonging allow a child to explore and trial new things without anxiety or stress.
We are born to connect.
During early childhood we learn to connect and create patterns, this is how our understanding of concepts develops. Young children need patterns and experiences to understand how the world works. They provide tamariki with an appreciation of what to expect throughout life in terms of possibilities and opportunities. Psychiatrist Rene Spitz studied infants and young children during the 1930's and found that even if children received adequate nutrition and health care they would still fail to thrive from a lack of loving contact.
Attachment is a relational process which builds throughout infancy and is established at about 8 months of age when infants develop significant cognitive skills. Children at this age develop the capacity to cognitively understand what is often referred to as object permanence - the understanding of cause and effect and the appreciation that objects (including people) can still exist even if we can't see them at the time. Children who love playing 'peekaboo' are in this exciting stage of development! Once a child is able to understand object permanence they are able to understand a different way of thinking, have feelings about themselves and others, and this allows the first learning's in relationships and how they work.
Spitz found that how children learn to connect and engage with their caregivers was how they then interacted with people their whole lives. This is a pretty fundamental finding and one that we can often here in adult conversations being 'you're just like your mother' or 'you are just like your father'!
Regardless of who we are acting like (in my case it's definitely my father!), the framework of interactions we have from infancy that continues throughout our whole life does define how we understand love. There is a reason for positive guidance being a major part of the Ministry of Education guidelines for all ages and it is something we definitely support at Cherry Grove. It makes teaching routines, boundaries, and rhythms much harder and the social commenting required is far great but it is worth the time and effort for our tamariki to understand they are loved regardless of how far they have dipped their toes over the edge!
The first week of Summer is here and we are embracing the warmer temperatures. What a fantastic day we had on Friday exploring hundreds of kilos of ice in all sorts of different ways all over Cherry Grove! There were ice sculptures, ice cups, sandpits filled with ice, ice bricks with all sorts of loose parts frozen into them, and ice blocks for tasting!
Summer is filled with so many opportunities for learning and development because the weather allows so much exploring to be done without fear of cold or illness. Research consistently shows that during the Summer months the mind is sharper and more open to stimulation, which leads to children exploring more. Exploration helps children build self-confidence and gives them a great feeling of accomplishment as they try new things and succeed at a level that has incredible meaning to them. When children have more control over what they want to learn and how they want to learn it, the outcomes for development are better than when we try and contrive a learning experience for them.
This is especially true with sensory development. Children who can explore their senses and what appeals to them in their own time are more willing to give new experiences and opportunities to explore further a go. We have some children at Cherry Grove that will take every opportunity to participate in messy play, and definitely create their own messy play if the opportunity presents!
It's a wonderful practice of independence when a child can follow their interest and it also gives them more chances to make age-appropriate decisions, care for the things they are using, and problem solving using their knowledge of the world.
We will have loose parts available to our tamariki in all our environments through the summer.
The Ministry of Education have released new resources that support kaiako to develop the social and emotional wellbeing of young children. He Maapuna te Tamaiti takes a holistic approach to a child's development to encompass the social, emotional, and communication skills they will need through life. The strategies are flexible and organised around creating a supportive environment, emotional competence, social competence, and supporting learning and engagement. The resources are aimed at encouraging self-management and regulation in children so they can grow their abilities to successfully contribute to them own social interactions and their capacity to learn.
The Ministry defines self-management as having the cognitive control needed for learning. That is, the ability to focus attention, persevere, plan, choose, and decide what to do next. These are all foundation blocks that we encourage our tamariki to learn at Cherry Grove to encourage self-help so our Cherry Grover's become their own problem solvers. Knowing a child well, understanding what they already know and are capable of defines how we can effectively grow and support each child's development and sense of self worth.
There are many things we can do to help children with their social and emotional competence and get their communication flourishing at the same time. Social coaching or commenting is the source of so much wonderful development in children and uses the following techniques to create learning opportunities:
Describing and Modelling - providing verbal narrations of a child's play to all the tamariki around the play so it is clear what is happening. This provides the perfect opportunity to also model verbal feedback, praise, and positive reinforcement to support children's understanding and their ability to communicate their own feelings, emotions.
Encouraging and Praising - using positive cues, comments, and visual guidance to encourage persistence, especially with new skills or challenges.
Scaffolding - collaborations with children that are done to encourage learning and/or social and emotional competence, it's like a 'leg up' for children, especially those tamariki that shy away from trying new things. It's important to gradually remove this help and replace it with prompts and reminders of support instead.
Feedback - acknowledge a child's actions and behaviours to continue motivation and their willingness to continue trialing and participating in social transactions, these can be verbal or gesture based encouragement.
Thinking Out Loud - talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what you are thinking, and demonstrate verbally things that promote learning, like attitudes and ways of speaking.
Positive Forecasting - talking optimistically about a child's ability to do something in the short term (you went to the toilet so well this morning, let's try that again soon) so there is an expectation that the outcome will be good. Preparing children to transition to new things or keep trialing something that is challenging allows them to have a positive approach to it and be ready for what is to come.
Tuakana-Teina Relationships - allow children to learn from older peers through supporting relationships and verbally acknowledge when a child shows support and awareness of the children around them. We can help children to learn to be interested in others when we model positive attention and curiosity at what others are doing around us.
Prompts and Reminders - Children love and learn from expectations and/or routines, it enables them to use recall in situations that have had positive outcomes or where they have solved a problem. Using cues whether verbal or visual helps a children to remember and practice social and emotional expectations.
As an adult, it takes a lot of practice to help children learn through consistent verbalising and coaching but the outcomes are so worth it and we encourage you to join us and give it a go! If you would like further information on this, please do not hesitate to talk with us.