Initiatives and Innovations
Kindergarten continually strives to be responsive to community need and ensure all children and families can access high quality early childhood education. Kindergarten is a leader among ECE services and is involved in a range of new initiatives and innovations to enhance teaching and learning and strengthen relationships with whānau and communities. Here are some examples:
- Mobile kindergartens serve rural communities in the Waimate region, allowing isolated families and children to connect with each other and participate in high quality early childhood education provided by a qualified, registered teacher.
- Bilingual kindergartens, including those operated by the Northland and Napier Kindergarten Associations , offer services in te reo Māori and English.
- A number of kindergartens offer environmentally focused early childhood education and are part of the national Enviroschools Early Years programme.
- In Porirua, Toru Fetū Kindergarten, promotes and integrates three Pasifika cultures and languages - Tuvalu, Niue, and Cook Island - at one centre. It is the first purpose built Pasifika kindergarten in New Zealand.
- He Whānau Manaaki (Wellington), Tauranga and Geraldine Kindergarten Associations offer home-based services where home-educators are trained and supported by a qualified, registered teacher. Home-based services cater for small groups of infants, toddlers and young children and nurture the languages and cultures of families in the home environment.
- Three kindergarten associations operate teen parent units. Other associations provide parent support and development programmes alongside traditional kindergarten services, including those under the umbrella of the Southland Kindergarten Association.
- Taitoko Kindergarten operates as a community hub, giving families access to other community agencies such as public health nurses and family support workers. A number of other kindergartens have whānau rooms where they host playgroups, offer workshops, and provide access to services and activities for parents and whānau.
- Many kindergarten associations including Northland, Nelson, Ruahine, Tauranga and He Whānau Manaaki employ Māori advisors, Pou Whakarewa Tikanga Māori or kaimahi, “to ensure provision of programmes that Māori whānau value with regard to cultural priorities”.
- He Whānau Manaaki Kindergarten Association operates the Y-Men Project, a programme for young men who are unemployed and not in training of any kind. The men spend six months undertaking supported placements in Wellington area kindergartens. They develop skills, confidence and focus during the programme and most have gone on to enroll in training or education programmes upon completion of the project.
- Kindergartens offer a number of successful parent education programmes supported by the Ministry of Social Development including SKIP (Strategies with Kids –Information for Parents) programme and the Incredible Years programme.
- The Dunedin Kindergarten Association and a number of other associations offer holiday programmes for children during term breaks.
- Several associations, including Southland, Westport, Kidsfirst, Nelson and He Whānau Manaaki, provide school day or long day services in some communities, including services for children under two year old.
- The Southland Kindergarten Association operates the Nature Discovery Programme where teaching and learning takes place outdoors in the natural environment.