2014 Review submitted by Karen Payne (parent and ECE registered teacher)
First steps Aongatete
Address: 2257 State Highway 2, Aongatete
Maximum Child Numbers: 25 children over the age of 2 years
Hours: 8.00am – 4.30pm
Management: Owned by the Kidicorp nationwide childcare company
First steps Aongatete is a rural centre. It is located approximately half way between Omokoroa and Katikati. It was a little unnerving in my car, entering the centre form the main road as it sits on a sharp corner of the highway. But once inside the car park I could see that the centre is back from the hustle of the road and the centre playground is securely fenced to reduce the chance of children running out onto the highway.
As soon as I arrived I was greeted at the gate by one of the teachers, Julie-Ann. She warmly welcomed me in and began showing me around. Just before going inside I spotted a little whare area that was nicely decorated for children to play in.
Julie-Ann was happy to show me around, telling me what the centre offered and introducing me to the staff. As we entered the inside area mat-time led by a teacher had just began for the children and it was nice to see the group mat-time starting with a small mihi in Te Reo Maori.
Julie-Ann explained that the centre had a mix of trained and untrained staff. She informed me about the centre’s routines, for example that the centre asks children to bring their own lunch-boxes.
The layout indoors comprised of neatly organised play activity areas and looked well resourced. I could see by the displays on the wall that the children's learning was important to the teachers. I could also tell that they incorporated the Maori culture into their displays.
As we went through the centre Julie-Ann spotted a girl who looked a little distressed and I was pleased to see her quickly responding and asking her if she needed help.
The centre uses an emergent curriculum approach and this means letting the children's interests and strengths lead their learning. The centre also offers a Kidicorp company designed “ready-for-school” programme on literacy, numeracy and social skills; and children are taken on school visits.
Julie-Ann mentioned that the children had a particular interest in bugs and so a big project on bugs had been running at the centre for a while now. The centre had a pet axolotl, fish and various bugs.
Walking outside, I noticed the outdoor area was quite big for the number of children at the centre, and had a real New Zealand feel to it with lots of native plants and trees. There was a large sandpit in the middle and lots of trailing paths for the children to explore.
My impressions of the centre were very favourable and I thought it was a lovely small rural centre that children would enjoy.