ECE services

Regent Kindergarten have Hearts of Gold

Regent Kindy Resized for LBH

Regent Kindy are finding new ways to inspire and give while gaining their award

Beststart Regent Kindy is celebrating our back to back Healthy Heart Gold Award. With great pride and joy, we would like to share our success to our children, whanau and local community who helped us achieve this award. We also want to share our journey to serve as an inspiration to help others live a fun, healthy and fulfilling lives.

Our healthy heart journey began in 2017 when we learnt about the Heart Foundation's healthy heart awards. We worked together with our children and whanau to make our lunchboxes healthy. We supported our whanau to understand the importance of good nutrition and healthy eating habits to children's development and long term health. We also engaged in lots of active movement activities and parent education seminars to educate the children, staff and parents on the importance of active movement and physical literacy to brain and body development of young children and how they directly affect learning and concentration. These endeavours yielded positive outcomes that inspired us more to keep going and weave these healthy practices in our daily routines.

Two years after, we moved forward to make a difference not only in the lives of the children and families that we have at our kindy. We deepened and broadened our understanding of Hauora and promoted well being and looked at the concept of hauora holistically and worked to extend this understanding by being more involved on a larger scale- Our Whangarei community.
We supported our learners' physical health and well-being by promoting healthy eating, regular active movement activities and local excursions. We celebrated different occasions with healthy food choices using local produce and lots of creativity ( watermelon cake, berry smoothies, etc). We fostered strong bonds with our whanau and community resources through centre and community wide celebrations that highlighted our diverse cultures and backgrounds. It provided us opportunities to celebrate this diversity and introduce the wider world to our learners through their palate.

The strong and continuous support that we receive from our whanau prompted us to establish a stronger community spirit. We looked at extending the support to look after the homeless people in our community through Soulfood Whangarei. Our regular healthy eating education turned into a monthly commitment to feed the people who do not have much and would most likely miss out on healthy meals to nourish them. The staff and the children worked together to prepare healthy meals from donated produce and other goods of our children’s whanau and other Beststart centres. Through the shared resources that we have gathered, we are able to share the gift of good health through healthy heart meals. We also get out and about to help the Cancer Society and Plunket through fundraisings while promoting healthy eating and active movement. Our partnership and regular visits to Parahaki resthome encouraged them to provide healthy food, drinks and treats to our children and their residents during our shared kai to support our Healthy Eating Food Policy.

All these initiatives helped each and one of us become healthy in mind, body and spirit. As our children become more involved in our community, their concept of fairness, social justice and whanaungatanga grow. They developed positive concept of themselves as capable, caring and compassionate individuals. It helped us, the adults around them to be more aware of our responsibilities as rolemodels to promote holistic health and well-being to our learners and to love and value our own well-being.

Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwi. With your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive. Beststart Regent Kindy is thankful that we were given the opportunities to fill the basket of lives of our children, their whanau and the community around us with love and care through good health and wellbeing. It was a great journey to our gold award. But the more important treasure that we achieved is the wealth of good health and well-being, solidarity of the community and compassion for and with one another. That is gold!

Big first steps at the Cottage Kindergarten

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The Cottage Kindergarten begins their journey!

Invercargill early learning service, The Cottage Kindergarten, has earnt a well-deserved bronze ‘Rito’ Healthy Heart Award from the Heart Foundation in recognition of its efforts towards creating a heart-healthy environment.

The Healthy Heart Award programme acknowledges and values the long-lasting healthy changes made by The Cottage Kindergarten. To achieve this award, the kindergarten updated their cooked lunches menu, introduced new snacks for morning and afternoon tea.

The also created opportunities for active play such as yoga, bush kindy and working in the vegetable garden, with a visit from Black Fern, Alena Saili, providing the children with a great active role model.

“Taking part in the Healthy Heart Award has enabled us to look at our menus and make some changes. The children are enjoying lots of new foods like sushi, and wraps. We have continued to offer lots of opportunities to learn about growing our own vegetables and incorporating lots of active movement in our programme. We are now working towards the gold level.” Says Mary Fensom, teacher.

Kate Stratford, Heart Foundation Nutrition Advisor, says she is thrilled to see the progress made by The Cottage Kindergarten.

“Establishing healthy habits in the early years provides children with a strong foundation for good health and well-being throughout their lives. The Cottage Kindergarten has done a great job taking these first steps towards creating a heart-healthy environment and are committed to continuing on their journey towards achieving a gold ‘Pā-Harakeke’ Healthy Heart Award in the future.”                                


In photo Jerome Ward (4), Mary Fensom, Lucas Warnock (4)

Milford Kindy making sustainable changes!

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Milford Kindy making sustainable changes!

Milford Kindergarten recently received their Third Pā-Harakeke Healthy Heart Award and appear to have created a culture in their centre that lends itself to perpetual Gold Award achievement. Educator Amanda Bowen shares the scientific way that the children are engaging in healthy eating experiences.

-     Milford Kindergarten’s teaching has strong biology leanings.  How did you come up with these ideas? 

I remember Mum always talking about the natural world, anatomy, digestion, respiration, and circulation. I must have really enjoyed listening to her because I have remained interested in those subjects for many years.  Now that I am a kindergarten teacher, I enjoy sharing these interests with children and whānau.

At work, our philosophy focusses on well-being, nature, sustainability, and kaitiakitanga and is a great fit for my own values. For example, we regularly facilitate a ‘Kai Moana Experience’ which I regard as a strong example of integrated learning, incorporating hauora, science, technology, mathematics, and literacy into a very interactive activity that could appeal to many children. Thanks to Devonport Kindergarten for first sharing this experience with me nine years ago.

-     You use quite confronting hands-on methods in your learning, e.g. fish and worm digestive systems. 

 How do the children react to these methods? 

Kai Moana Experience

Before the children arrive, we arrange whole fish, filleted fish, bivalves, cephalopods etc. on trays of salt-ice.

Those children that show interest are invited to look at the fish and spend time finding out more about them. The children’s most asked question is, “Can I touch it?”.

First we removing the edible fillets, before encouraging them to handle the fish, examining and feeling the lips, teeth, tongue, gills, guts, tails and scales. Some children, and whānau hold their noses and move away, others hold their noses and come to take a closer look. We get loads of comments like, “Kindy’s a bit on the nose this morning”, or, “Something fishy’s going on at kindy today”. 

Some children appear to find the fish confronting, and often we see whānau supporting their children’s learning by recalling past events, “Can you tell Amanda how many fish you caught with Grandad?”, or by enabling the child to touch by holding the child’s hands in theirs and discussing their own knowledge and experiences with the children. Throughout the morning we continue to talk about digestion, respiration, and circulation, linking what we notice to our own bodily experiences. Often we use books, internet video, or whānau knowledge to extend what we are learning.

The activity concludes with the children washing and cutting the fillets into fish fingers, and preparing the prawns and squid, before frying or steaming them ready to share at morning tea. We use the fish heads and skeleton to make fresh fish stock, which we either freeze or share with whānau. Nothing is wasted, even the intestines etc. go into our bokashi system to recycle.

-     What have been some of the children’s learning outcomes, in line with your Pa-Harakeke Gold award this time around?

Learning outcomes stemming from this activity are varied according to the interests and engagement of individuals. For example, mana atua/well-being is supported through promotion of hauora, healthy lifestyle, healthy food production and consumption. Children experience opportunities to express confidence, independence, self-help and self-care skills relating to food preparation. Knowledge of bodily systems is increased through hands-on exploration and teina/tuākana knowledge sharing. Through these activities we are able to reinforce the tikanga of kaitiakitanga, as we teach and learn about conserving, preserving and protecting nature through interactive learning activities.

-     What has been the feedback from parents?

I believe that this is the kind of teaching and learning that creates boundless curiosity and an enduring interest in the natural world. Today a parent commented, “This stuff really makes me want to be a kindy teacher”… “Me too!”