Choosing a kindergarten for your child can seem overwhelming if it’s your first time exploring education outside your family home. We often get asked by parents “how do we know that the time is right for our child to start kindergarten?” or “how will we know which is the right choice for us?”
Let’s share our thoughts on the first question, timing. At Four Seasons we are licenced for 30 tamariki, aged 2 years -6 years daily. We try to keep our daily roll at a maximum of 28 tamariki, taking into consideration the overall needs of the group of tamariki we have with us, along with the needs of the families in our community.
Thinking about the age of a child, 28 other children can be an overwelming number to be around when you have just turned 2 years old, especially when they are away from the familiarity of whanau. So we see that the best outcomes for tamariki in our kindergarten are found when a child is closer to 3 years of age. A sense of ‘being’ and starting to explore playing alongside and with other tamariki begins to develop around the age of 3 and it’s much easier to manage oneself and relate to others when I am closer to 3 than when I’ve just turned 2.
Another thing to consider when starting is to ensure that life outside of kindergarten is as calm as life with a young child can be. Starting kindergarten at the same time as moving house, the arrival of a younger sibling, visitors coming to stay for extended periods of time can add to the busyness that already exsists for a young child at the beginning of their kindergarten journey. We encourage the beginning of kindergarten to be a time where a child is given lots of downtime outside of the kindergarten life to settle into a new rhythm. It can take at least a month for tamariki and whanau to feel a sense of belonging, we’d encourage you to not plan a holiday or time away within the first month of settling into kindergarten. It’s a big thing to be away from whanau, for perhaps the first time? And it’s a big thing to begin to trust in other adults, outside of the security of whanau, to love, nurture and educate your tamaiti.
Now onto the other question, “how will I know which is the right kindergarten for my child?” We’d encourage you to visit at least 2 or 3 early childhood environments. Look at the children in play, the kaiako (teachers) at work and the environment. Ask lots of questions. And trust your gut. You’ll know which centre is right for your child and family. If nothing stands out, then maybe the time isn’t quite right to make that decision yet? We strongly encourage that you, as a parent, make the choice for your child. Giving a young child the option of choosing what ECE centre they would like to attend is not something we would recommend. A young child has yet to build the capacities to see the bigger picture, to know what values are and how these are honoured.
When you visit us at Four Seasons, we’ll show you around and set aside about an hour to share our philosophy with you, what that looks like in action. What we do each day, and how we build connections with you and your tamaiti. You’re welcome to take away an enrollment form and come back to enlist your child onto our waiting list. There is never any obligation and we love sharing our space with whanau. We ask that you give us a call 07 378 8042 or send us an email to coordinate a time to visit. That way we can dedicate the time that this deserves, and not be distracted by other tasks.