Home away from home: kindy’s unique set-up
‘‘Evidence shows it brings in the family and whanau.’’
A Lower Hutt kindergarten is making a big splash with its unique style.
Stokes Valley Kindergarten is no ‘‘catalogue-kindy’’, head teacher Jodi Waters said. Instead, she has made it into a home, complete with incense burning on the window sills and candles flickering on homemade wooden tables.
Her style has proved a hit. A Facebook video uploaded last month which shows the space has been shared nearly 600 times and has nearly 90,000 views from people around the world.
The reaction was a welcome surprise for Waters, who had only been looking to create a ‘‘home away from home’’ for parents and children.
When she came to the kindergarten three years ago, she started from scratch. ’’There were no established teachers, only relievers - I needed parent involvement.’’
She wanted parents to be invested so she made the space feel like a home. She created ‘‘learning pockets’’ rather than one open space, brought in a dining table for the children and introduced incense.
The kindergarten took its cue from Italian parents in WWII. At the time, with little money and resources, parents started using natural materials to create toys and tools for their children. Education movement the Reggio philosophy grew from there.
Under this philosophy , learning is self-directed, Waters said. When working on class projects the teachers follow what the children are interested in.
‘‘Evidence shows it brings in the family and whanau,’’ she said.
While the children in Stokes Valley still used Lego blocks, plastic cups and plates were gone, replaced by glass jars and metal bowls. Instead of plastic tea sets to play with, metal teapots are set out on the wooden tables.
Candles on the tables raised some eyebrows, especially among commenters on the Facebook video, but Waters said she laughed when she was reading some of them.
‘‘A lot of time has gone into educating children around safety.’’
Sometimes, it had been as simple as saying, if you touch that, you will get burnt, she said.
Waters also finds a lot of parents comment on how clean the kindergarten is kept. She said it came down to a matter of respect.
‘‘We work alongside the children. We have that equal partnership.’’
Head teacher JodiWaters backs selfdirected learning Stokes Valley Kindergarten head teacher Jodi Waters plays with some playdough in the kindy with a difference.