Rhythms and Choices
We know children respond well to and gain a sense belonging and wellbeing when surrounded by familiar people with familiar ways of doing. At Central Kids care routines such as nappy changing, sleep and eating are structured around children’s rhythms and their choices about their day. Children are able to make choices for themselves.
“Daily routines respond to individual circumstances and needs and allow for frequent outdoor experiences, regular rest times, and a variety of group and individual interactions, with one-to-one attention from adults every day”. (p 30, Te Whāriki 2017)
Benefits of children to be able to make their own choices are:
- Knowing my body and satisfying its needs
- Being able to follow a routine and managing this for myself
- Being part of a social group I choose for myself
- Developing self-determination (This is what I need right now)
- Developing positive self-regard (I can make the best choice for me)
- My learning is uninterrupted by adult schedules (I can remain engaged as I learn until I am ready to move on)
- Structuring familiar routines for myself which enable me to feel I belong
- I see that adults are respectful and value my play
Teachers are able to respond to the individual child’s needs, such as noticing when a child’s behaviour indicates a need for food or they have an interest in a particular topic. This “assessment in action” is a responsibility of teachers who value the learning children experience when they are able to make choices and decisions that influence their thinking about their world.
In a 2007 report “Early Childhood Education: A Guide for Parents” ERO states:
- Routines in early childhood services should be designed to meet children’s individual preferences, not the convenience of adults. For example, children should be able to eat, or sleep when they need to.
- Daily practices such as mealtimes and flexible group times should have minimal impact on the child-initiated programme.
- Group times may give educators an opportunity to work with small groups or the whole group of children on a particular interest or project.
- Group times should not take up a lot of the session or day. Children should be able to choose whether or not to participate
(p 14, ERO 2007)
Kai practices reflect Central Kids philosophy in a nutshell, that children lead their learning and learn from their experiences. At a Central Kids service you will see children eating in small social groups at different times of the day according to their needs for food, social connection or a break from the busyness of their play. Children are able to be responsive to their own biological needs (my tummy is grumbling) and develop a life-long skill of understanding and caring for self and others. When adults eat it is generally a pleasurable often social experience especially if we are in the company of friends or family. This is what we want children to experience.
Children often have opportunities to prepare kai either as part of a group or individually. This supports knowing where food comes from, with a sense of satisfaction of eating or sharing food they have prepared (experiencing manaakitanga). Manaakitanga encompasses reciprocal hospitality and respect from one individual or group to another.
At Central Kids we believe that parents know their child well. To accommodate this children bring their own food from home as parents know what their child needs to sustain them through their day. By having food they are accustomed to brings a familiar aspect of home into their day with Central Kids. Children’s independence is grown by managing their own lunchbox and making decisions about when and in what order they eat their kai.
Group Times (mat times)
Group times evolve around the children who want to be at these activities where songs/waiata, games, stories happen in small groups and children can follow their interests. At times for special purposes such as celebrations, visitors, whakatau there may be a large group gathering which children are invited to attend.
We understand this is a very important care moment in a child’s life that is very personal and needs to be responded to by adults who focus on the child’s needs. Toileting is done by a teacher or kaiako who has formed a relationship with and become familiar with the child. It is important to us at Central Kids that the child remains in control of how and when this routine will happen, so they are included in decision-making.
“Comfortable, enjoyable and predictable caregiving practices are established that support each (child)’s identity, self-knowledge and developing self-regulation”. (p 33, Te Whāriki 2017)