Playcentre became an attractive option for my family when K was born. Over the last decade as a teacher working with all primary school age groups and facilitating learning for professionals I had observed a few truly outstanding teachers and found a common link between them. These teachers who I admired for their communication with others, empowerment of learners and ability to truly listen and hear a child had all been Playcentre mums. These teachers understood developmental stages of learning and gently enabled children to move through them, they extended children into new areas of learning naturally with the child's motivation and interests being honored first. Because they listened and observed they all had fantastic relationships with the childrens' parents. Now that I am a parent I am excited to experience more of this - all the while letting my daughter explore her world through play in a warm, safe, multi-aged environment full of mess and fun.
As an Early Childhood Service Playcentre offers families a holistic growing experience. Together parent and child learn with other parents and children. From each other, with each other and for each other. This is a unique experience to have. In the children initiated play programme every child is enabled to follow their interest at their stage, in their time, in a supportive environment. Of parallel significance is the Playcentre's Parent Education Programme, this allows parents to be the educators learning and growing in understanding and confidence to be able to observe and extend children through play.
The Playcentre Philosophy links to the NZ Early Childhood Curriculum "Te Whariki" (the woven mat). The Principles of this curriculum echo that which is desired in Playcentre in the following ways:
- The Principle of "empowerment/whakamana" where within the learning environment of Playcentre children are given the power to learn and grow with independence, choice and participation.
- "Holistic development/Kotahitanga" is embraced at Playcentre by providing open ended exploration and play, differentiation which acknowledges stage rather than age, and most importantly learning as a whole rather than in seperate subjects.
- "Family and Community/Whanau Tangata" are central to Playcentre as it is the child's first world experience therefore all aspects of this are valued and a child's wider sense of the world recognised.
- "Relationships/ Nga Hononga" with people, places and things. Playcentre provides a rich differentiated environment of people, places and things of which children can choose to interact with at their stage and extend on. They can observe adults and older children extending in play allowing them to attempt this when they choose. Positive, co - operative relationships are modeled for all to learn from.