Nature Kids Playing in Nature

We are a family owned and operated early childhood centre with a nature based philosophy and a commitment to sustainable practise providing quality education and care and a strong belief in building positive and collaborative relationships with children, families and the community.

Nature Kids Motueka

We provide a child and Teacher led programme based on the NZ Early childhood curriculum "Te Whāriki” with the aspiration 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.”-Te Whāriki (1996, page 9)

To do this we provide a natural environment; children learn through nature and build strong connections with the natural world, as much time as possible is spent outside through a flexible daily rhythm that caters to every child’s hauora (whole wellbeing). Through Manaakitanga (respect) aroha (love) and whanaungatanga (relationships) we create a welcoming and collaborative environment.
Not only through ako (Teaching and learning from each other) between teacher and child, but extended to the whanau and wider community.
Children are supported through promoting and developing the foundations of lifelong learning, dispositions and skills. Nature Kids By acknowledging all children’s mauri (life force) and mana (sense of self) the children’s identity and self-concept are positively affirmed, empowering the children with a strong sense of belonging, whakamana (empowerment) and turangawaewae (a place to stand)

We believe the best way to do this is by having highly qualified staff implementing a nature philosophy, based on aspects of a variety of theories, philosophers and approaches.

Such as:

  • Magda Gerber’s principle of respect, uninterrupted time for free play and consistency in limits and boundaries
  • Rose Pere’s holistic Māori health model Te Wheke and commitment to meaningful bicultural practice
  • Fredrich Froebel’s holistic approach to learn through free play with open ended
    resources at the child’s pace, while acknowledging the parents importance as first teachers.
  • Nature Kids
  • Claire Warden’s principles of risky play trusting and challenging the children to risk assess in a safe and supported environment and focus on learning dispositions in a natural environment
  • Reggio Emillia’s principle of the environment being the third teacher, where children are viewed as capable and contribute to a child centred curriculum, in a collaborative and social environment, the principle of respect and uninterrupted time for free play and consistency in limits and boundaries. While encouraging and valuing community and family contribution and communication.
  • Goesta Frohm’s and Siw Linde’s concept that all of the child’s needs are fulfilled in nature, and to foster a lifelong connection, understanding and love for the natural world and how to look after mother nature through living a sustainable life. Also valuing teachers as the most precious resource, providing an indoor and outdoor environment that are complimentary and consistent, while celebrating the uniqueness of the environment of our area.

Our programme is based on the principles of manaakitanga - respect, Whakamana -empowerment, aroha- Love, Whanau - family, peace, holistic development, responsibility, Whangaungatanga - relationships, collaboration and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching natural environment based on the interest of the children ensuring positive learning outcomes for all.

Teaching strategies

Let Nature be your teacher – Utilising, encouraging and valuing all areas of learning and development through Papatuanuku - Mother Nature. Providing children the freedom of just being in nature daily and experiencing wild spaces within the grounds and on regular excursions to “The Willow Tree” giving them the time to connect with nature and learn to love papatuanauku so then they care for respect and protect it growing up to become guardians of the land.

Time and space - To provide children uninterrupted time, space and access to plentiful open ended natural materials. Respectful relationships – Encourage children’s positive attitudes to self and others including animals and the environment treating every living being with respect, viewing positive relationships with the children as a cornerstone to them achieving positive learning outcomes.

Cultural identity – support, value, affirm and celebrate individual cultures, māori are valued and respected as tangata whenua.

Ako – A teaching and learning relationship where the Teacher is also learning from the child and the teachers’ practises are informed by the latest research and are both deliberate and reflective. Ako is grounded in the principle of reciprocity and also recognises that the learner and whanau cannot be separated.

Teaching māori learners - This will be guided by the ministry of educations tātaiako competencies and Dr Rangimarie Peres holistic maori healthTe Wheke.

Environment as a third teacher- the environment is valued for its potential to inspire children, it is filled with natural light with open spaces free from clutter, it reflects the values and beliefs of our community, it is flexible , stimulating and inviting. Children learn through active participation with people places and things.

Image of the child – Children are seen as competent, powerful, and full of ideas and curiosity, capable of constructing their own knowledge and driven by their interests to understand and know more.

Priority learners - Teaching practice is guided by the Education Review office - priorities for children’s learning.

Inquiry based learning – our focus is on social collaboration where each child is an equal participant, having their thoughts and questions valued, children search out the knowledge through their own investigations.

Active observer – We notice all aspects of the environment and act on these observations to inform our role as a provisioner, mentor, companion, guide, connector and monitor.
Provisioner – We make decisions that present the learning potential and possibilities.
Monitor - Engaging in the aspects that maintain the well-being of those in the environment. Risk management, conflict resolution, hazard identification, care responsibilities.
Mentor and guide – Observe the children, listen to their requests and stories, find what interests them and then provide them with opportunities to explore these interests further. Model skills, dispositions, habits of mind, behaviour, interactions and expectations.
Companion - Interactions are through respectful relationships, providing a presence to sooth, comfort, educate, converse and build a relationship. A companion is very much about being present, being there for a child to share and wonder when they need it most.
Guide – The teacher influences the learning journey of the child through intentional interaction to extend or enhance thinking or understanding. Questioning, wondering, reflective discussion, revisiting and transferring knowledge.
Connector – Working with the children to build relationships with each other, the environment, animals, and wider community. Engaging intentionally to introduce children to the physical, natural and social world.