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Nature is the Classroom for Playcentre Children

Nature is the Classroom for Playcentre Children

Karori Playcentre’s older children enjoy a special session each week that takes them out to Wellington’s beaches, parks and reserves.

Known as ‘Tamariki Nui’, the session is for a small group of children from 3½ to school age.

“Our older children enjoy being leaders and playing with their siblings on our usual mixed age sessions”, says Karori Playcentre President Mary-Jane Smith, “the Tamariki Nui session is great for strengthening communication and co-operation skills between the older children. We are amazed at the sense of ‘being a team’ that has developed.”

Karori Playcentre had run a separate session for older children in the past. This changed to an outdoor-based session in late 2013 to provide something special for the 3 and 4 year olds that were staying with Playcentre through to school.

“One of the wonderful things about Playcentre is that it’s run by parents for their own children”, says Ms Smith. “We decide as a group the experiences we want to offer our children. When the idea of an outdoor-based session came up, we knew it was something we wanted to try.”

The session visits a number of locations around Wellington, including Makara Beach, Karori Park, Otari-Wilton’s Bush, Scorching Bay, Petone Foreshore and the Botanic Garden. This gives the children the chance to explore a variety of different environments. By re-visiting they can also see how they change over time.

Another feature of the session is the incorporation of traditional stories about the Wellington region and its landscapes.

“On a visit to Petone Foreshore we told the story of Wellington Harbour entrance’s creation by the taniwha Ngake and Whātaitai”, says session leader Victoria McEwan. “That week the children made taniwha on the beach. On a later visit to Otari-Wilton’s Bush they made up their own taniwha story inspired by an eel they fed there.”

Playcentres deliver high quality early childhood education for birth to school-age children that follows the national curriculum Te Whariki. Playcentres are run by volunteer parents and whanau who receive free NZQA-approved training in early childhood education and centre management.

Karori Playcentre has a display running at Karori Library until 27 September. The week 22 to 26 September is an ‘Open Week’ when local families with pre-schoolers are welcome to pop into the centre for a visit between 9.30 and 11.00am.

To enjoy three free visits at any local Playcentre visit


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