Kauri Kids Papatoetoe - Centre Spotlight

We had a lovely tour of Kauri Kids Papatoetoe and sat down with the centre manager to understand what makes their centre special.

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Jessie PetersJuly 25, 2022

Kauri Kids Papatoetoe - Centre Spotlight

We were warmly welcomed by the staff at Kauri Kids Papatoetoe when we spent a couple of hours with the children and the staff photographing their beautiful centre. Tucked behind the leisure centre it is situated in a peaceful location, the staff have strived to create a home away from home that we certainly felt welcome in. We felt that this was a real hidden gem in the heart of Papatoetoe.

We particularly liked how the children learnt our names so quickly and followed us around as we took photographs. The centre manager Neelam Naicker was welcoming, we asked her a few questions to paint a richer picture of life at Kauri Kids Papatoetoe.

Portrait of Neelam Naicker the centre manager

Tell us your story about how you got into the early learning sector?

I have been in the education sector from the time I started working. I originally worked as a secondary school teacher for 9 years.

Coming to NZ was a big step and being part of the workforce was an even bigger step. I decided not to continue teaching but I couldn't see myself anywhere else apart from being in the education sector. A friend told me about ECE and I loved how it was similar to teaching but offered me the chance to provide care along with education.

Early Childhood Education is about supporting children to grow independently as well as be capable in their own learning. Visiting my friends centre inspired me to become an ECE teacher. I am learning and growing daily and still get surprised at how much children know, how they grow and develop, and how much they end up teaching me.

What's your favourite type of play?

When I was growing up, outdoor play with open-ended resources was the way to go. We did lots of mud kitchen cooking, making imaginary firepits, and picking flowers, sticks, and wood as toys. Coming to Kauri kids rekindled those memories for me. Here at Kauri Kids, we champion child-led play with open-ended resources.

I am in my happy place helping children let loose, directing their own play, letting their imagination run wild creating wonderful experiences for themselves. Nothing feels better than putting your imagination and creativity into your play.

Child playing in workshop

What is one thing that parents could do to encourage childrens learning at home?

We always need to remember how capable children are. Continually giving them chances to explore and engage in everyday activities is the best learning we can give them. Allow little ones to practice real-life skills and encourage them to take risks safely. Give them a chance to help with tidying up, cooking, folding clothes, and practicing eating on their own. Cooking in the kitchen helps them to appreciate food, folding helps develop fine motor skills which will help them with being steady when holding a pencil, tidying up helps them to become responsible, cutting vegetables helps to concentrate and focus which will support their concentration skills for life.

Child using hammer at Kauri Kids Papatoetoe

What's your all-time favourite children's book?

If you are anything like me and loved reading books as a child, your favourite author would surely have been Enid Blyton. Growing up in a world where cell phones and the internet did not exist, and the television channels numbered less than 10, our window to the outside world was mainly through the books we read.

Blyton's books were mainly about fairytales and fictitious stories focusing on boarding schools and magical lands, an escape in a time when we didn't have much access to what was happening in the world outside. We spent a lot of our time creating our world the way we wanted it to be. We dreamt of being investigators knee-deep in mysteries and going off on secret adventures.

Similarly, today I still see children loving stories about fantasy centered around superheroes and princes and princesses.

Book cover of The Famous Five by Enid Blyton

What is your favourite rainy-day activity for under 5's?

Our favourite rainy-day activity for under 5's is to embrace the weather and play in the rain! All weather play is a big part of the Kauri Kids philosophy, rain or shine, we encourage outside play. Just make sure to remember to pack a good pair of gumboots!

Centre manager Kauri Kids Papatoetoe assisting toddlers

What is it about your centre that makes it special?

I think everything about our centre makes it special and unique. From friendly staff to a homely environment and bubbling voices of children enjoying their play to open-ended resources.

We provide a home away from home for everyone (children, Kaiako, whanau, and our visitors). Our environment is rich in open-ended natural resources supporting our children's unique needs. Children are given uninterrupted space and time to explore, investigate and discover the world around them. Having unhurried, uninterrupted rituals and care moments is what makes us special.

Kauri Kids Papatoetoe interior with a sign saying loose parts

What is the centre philosophy?

Our philosophy is centered on our belief in the importance of a play-based, curriculum in an unhurried home-like environment.

We endeavour to create an environment that is respectful to the child giving them the autonomy to lead their own learning. Our interactions with families and whanau foster a great partnership and keep our tamariki as the focus. Tamariki are encouraged to engage in tuakana-teina relationships to foster social competence. We support and respect the bicultural heritage of Te Tiriti O Waitangi and Te Whariki which is our ECE curriculum.

Kauri Kids Papatoetoe outdoor marae

Next steps

If you would like to book a visit at Kauri Kids Papatoetoe feel free to check out their listing on Kindello. If you live somewhere else in Auckland then here is a link to the other Kauri Kids centres.

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