At the New Zealand Independent School our Early Years program is centered on the child initiated learning style of Te Whaariki. This curriculum is not built on timetables but rather is a fluid approach to being adaptable to how our young children act and learn. Our staff must be constantly observing and communicating with each child to extend their thinking and learning. This may happen on a one-to-one or small group basis. The environment is crucial to the children’s learning as it allows the children to develop their fine and gross motor-skills, which are essential for formal learning in the Primary School years. If these skills are developed in the Early Years this allows the children to be able to focus, concentrate and eye track when they begin to read and write.
Through Te Whaariki, our young students are encouraged to fall in love with songs and stories, experiments and investigations. At NZIS our students sing songs, read nursery rhymes and do finger plays and chants. They are read to over and over again. They investigate the world through water, sand and other tactile materials. Climbing frames and play centres are constantly manipulated to provide the children with varying opportunities to explore their outside and inside environments creatively. The use of oral language is fostered through these engaging activities as the children endeavor to work with their peers and share their enthusiasm with the many adults at NZIS. Our Early Years students also get to explore the world through their specialist lessons with the music, ICT and library teachers. The benefits of the Te Whaariki curriculum are that they encourage children to be responsible and enthusiastic learners with positive self-esteem and confidence.
Teaching the Te Whaariki Curriculum within Indonesia does present some initial challenges for our parents and some staff because it is very different from many of the Asian and European curriculums that some parents and local staff are familiar with. It is imperative that Early Years teachers communicate the foundation principles and goals to parents and all Early Years staff to ensure that they understand that the activities the children are involved in are goal oriented and fundamental to their learning.
The teachers in our NZIS Early Years meet weekly to plan, discuss and explore new and exciting opportunities for the students and to reflect on the effectiveness of the programs from the week before. The teachers must work collaboratively with the Teaching Assistants to ensure that all are familiar with the special needs of some students regardless of which ‘home class’ they belong to. Our four Early Years classes spend a significant portion of each day outside together.
There are four broad principles at the center of the Te Whaariki Early Childhood curriculum.
• Empowerment – empowers the child to learn and grow
• Holistic Development – reflects the holistic way children learn and grow
• Family and Community- the wider world is an integral part of their learning
• Relationships – Children learn through responsive and reciprocal relationships with people, places, and things.
This curriculum is founded on the following aspirations for children:
To grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.
We welcome all nationalities to our school and we see these early years of a child’s learning as being very special. We value our NZ based curriculum, which is proven to be one of the very best educational developmental programs in the world, and we see it as a fundamentally important difference, to any other International school in Indonesia and the world.
Early Years Leader
New Zealand Independent School