2013 Review Submitted by Karen Payne (parent and ECE registered teacher)
Greerton Early Childhood Centre, Mitchell Street
Address: 12 Mitchell Street, Tauranga
Maximum Child Numbers: 40 children
Hours: 7.30am – 5.00pm
Management: One of two centres privately owned by Lorraine Sands.
I found Greerton early childhood centre was located on a quiet street and from the outside it looked just an ordinary home. As I walked in I felt it had a homely feel. The staff were not dressed in uniforms and the atmosphere was welcoming.
When I arrived I was greeted by Amanda, one of the teachers. Amanda was very friendly, welcoming, and happy for me to look around. I was impressed with her confidence in prompting me to take notes to share with my sister who is considering moving to our town with her child next year.
Not long after we started talking, a child ran up to Amanda and gave her a big hug. My first thought was that Amanda was her mother, but she was not. It was really lovely to see children relating warmly to Amanda and to know that the children are encouraged to form strong bonds with the teachers.
At Greerton they have a key teacher system I was told. This means that when new children start at the centre they have key teachers who take them under their wing to help with settling in and the key teachers are also the key point of contact for children’s parents and responsible for sharing information and communicating with parents about their child.
On the day I visited the ratio was 1 adult to every 8 children and I was told that all staff were qualified. I was pleased to see that the teaching staff included a male teacher.
Morning-tea was a rolling one with children free to choose when to have their morning-tea and how long to stay before going off to play again.
The inside area was quiet as it seemed most of the children were playing outside which was understandable because it was such a lovely sunny day. I noticed the inside area had a natural feel, wooden floors and lots of little nooks or spaces for children to explore and play in.
Amanda pointed out to me that it may appear that some of the play spaces are messy, but when it’s a child’s project or activity, such as a block construction, the teachers will leave it as the child might come back to it or other children may add to it later.
I asked how often the children go on excursions outside of the centre and Amanda pointed out a big wall display about the twice weekly farm trips they make to the centre’s owner farm with the 6 oldest children. (My ECE would like to add the following comment to parents enrolling their child at any centre: excursions are valuable for children's learning but check that your child will be safe when being taken off the premises and there is no potential for abuse to occur e.g. you or other parents are invited to accompany children). She also mentioned they take children on local walks to the library.
Moving outside, I saw children engaged in their own play or playing with other children. I watched children getting messy in the sandpit, water play, and painting and they were having a lot of fun.
A few children did not have sun hats on but this probably was not an issue as it was a naturally shady area they were playing in.
I saw a flowing waterfall which fell down stones into a tiny pond, a climbing wall, a flying fox, and a big sandpit with a tepee made of tree branches for cover. It was a fabulous natural area. The way it was designed seemed to provide children with lots of safe challenges to extend their capabilities and confidence. I liked seeing how the children were being supported to take risks safely.
Amanda explained to me that the children and teachers all take responsibility for safety. During ‘whanau time’ (group time) they discuss aspects of safety and what children should be remembering to do in their play to keep safe and help their friends to be safe. When I asked about how they plan for children’s learning Amanda said they followed the children’s own interests, often using technology to research for information and ideas.
Looking around I wondered how children of diverse cultures were supported by the teachers and by the curriculum provided. However, I got the feeling that the teachers see children as they are and that culture is just one of many factors they take into account.
I noticed a wall display on ‘whanaungatana’ which was something the teachers had researched. This is a value which reinforces the commitment family and extended family members have to each other and the commitment is shown through behaviours such as caring, sharing, respecting, helping, and nurturing.
I asked about how children’s learning is assessed and before showing me a child’s profile book Amanda went to great lengths to ensure the child whose book it was, was happy for her to show it to me. I felt this was very respectful. (My ECE would like to add a note to parents here to suggest that parents enrolling their child at any centre ask if their child’s information and profile pictures, etc., will be shown to other people and how the centre respects your child's and your family's privacy).
When children are due to start school the teachers will take children to school visits for their parents, and have even travelled as far as the Mount “Well that’s how important we see this time for children to make a good transition to school learning, so we make it happen” Amanda explained.
I overheard teachers talking a couple of times about individual children’s achievements and progress and thought this was good as it showed that they were really interested and taking note of what the children were doing and were on the same page in regard to goals for children’s achievement.
I felt comfortable during the visit, which was around 1 hour. It was such a nice place to be in. The teachers talked with children at their level, they showed respect of each other and the children and there was such a very homely, loving, yet also highly professional feel to the place. I could have easily stayed longer. Therefore I would recommend to my sister or to anyone for that matter to visit and consider this centre for their child.