2014 Review submitted by Karen Payne (parent and ECE registered teacher)
Gate Pa Kindergarten
Address: 40 22nd Avenue
Maximum Child Numbers: 40 children over the age of 2 years.
Hours: 8.30am – 2.30pm
Management: The kindergarten is run by the Tauranga Region Kindergarten Association and is thus a community-based service.
Gate Pa Kindergarten is just down the road from the local girls’ college. From the outside the Kindergarten looks like a modern sized house with a small foyer area in the front for parents.
Upon entering the Kindergarten I saw it had a large open plan area, well set out and with neatly organised areas for children to play.
I was greeted by Janet, the head teacher, who was helpful and friendly. I explained I was looking for options for my sister who is moving to the city with her son. Janet was more than happy to show me around and quickly got for me a big enrolment pack with lots of information.
Janet introduced me to the teachers, one who was on non-contact time and was stapling ‘learning stories’ to the wall and another teacher who was with another enrolment enquiry.
While I waited for Janet to get the enrolment information one of the children walked in from the outside area with a large crab on a tray. It was frozen and he sat and observed it, waiting for it to thaw. This drew the attention of a few other children and the teacher who was on non-contact time left what she was doing and went and sat with the children and asked lots of thought provoking questions.
When Janet came back she explained that there was a big interest in fish among the children at the kindergarten and yesterday they had a snapper which they dissected and drew pictures of.
At another area of the kindergarten I saw three children building with blocks. They had built two huge constructions. Now they were banging blocks together loudly. Janet reminded the children about their quiet voices and pointed to the traffic lights that were flashing. The Kindergarten has a Safe Sound Indicator system that picks up loud noises and flashes like a traffic light according to the noise volume to help children to monitor their noise levels. Janet mentioned that this is important also because two of the children have hearing aids and are especially sensitive to loud noise.
Linnette, a teacher, told me that the children bring their lunch boxes and the centre provides morning and afternoon tea.
I walked around the outside area which I thought was lovely and huge for an early childhood centre and well planned out with plenty of room for children to play. The outside area contained a mix of natural and manufactured playground equipment and a children’s vegetable garden.
Going back inside, while Janet was talking to me we heard a child cry. Janet instantly excused herself to attend to the crying child and it was lovely to know that a child in distress would get such quick attention.
Later Janet talked with me some more and explained how they plan for the children’s learning. She showed me some of the children’s individual assessment profiles.
I noticed children’s ‘learning stories’ were displayed quite high on a wall and personally I would have liked to see these displayed lower and more at child eye level for children to look at easily and share their stories with others.
The only thing that was perhaps negative at the time was that most teachers were busy with either parent enrolments or non-contact time, so children did not have much chance for interaction with their teachers. However, this may not be the case at other times and could have just been the situation when I visited.
The kindergarten, for me, felt like a warm and inviting place to be. The teachers were all professionals and qualified.