As heart centred teachers we focus on nurturing our children to plant their roots with us through strong connected relationships, and a sense of belonging and contributing.
From their earliest days when they enter our setting they know this is their place. It is that security and strong sense of connection that allows our children to 'fly'.
Set them up for soaring
In their time with us we see them grow and learn and discover who they truly are. We feel blessed to witness this growth but know that the biggest stretching of the wingspan happens as they leave us and make the transition into the primary schooling journey.
Whether it be at five or six years old, our task is to make sure our children really are set for soaring.
The value of these earliest years of feet planting and being so grounded is often realised after the fact, and for years to come as the child continues to navigate life's challenges and opportunities.
I can do this!
We pride ourselves on creating warm and caring environments, and yet sometimes parents wonder how such a setting can prepare children for the realities of the big, wide world.
Some parents fear that our environment is "too nurturing", and while we smile at the thought that there is any such thing, we understand that parenting is full of trepidation. Every decision feels monumental and second guessing yourself is par for the course.
Society seems to tell parents that to make children 'strong' they need to experience hardship, uncertainty and some 'non-nurturing'. We are fortunate to know that in fact the very opposite is true.
A child whose earliest years have been filled with security, comfort, nurturing and love in their home and preschool environments are in the perfect position to move boldly into a new setting.
Competence and independence come from this core of kindness that the child continues to carry within them. Years of nurturing set them up with the sense of, "I can do this"!
We also have to remember that children are amazing and they can astound us with their capabilities if we let them.
Meeting the needs, here and now
What seems ironic is that our children leave us so prepared for their next stage for the very reason that what we are offering them is not in the name of 'preparation'.
We do not ask ourselves what a child will need for primary school and aim to get them 'ready'. That is not child centred or respectful of the child's timetable.
Meeting the needs of here and now is what is essential rather than being so future focused - when laying foundations the cement has to dry before we can race ahead to the next stage.
What we do is follow our children, where they are at and what they need for right now.
We focus on the whole child. We have no age based agendas and expectations.
Without it being our intention, we in fact prepare them better than a specific school readiness programme.
Roots and wings - these are the two things our children need
What is it that our families want for their children? Initially they may be thinking 'school preparedness' but as time goes on and they see their marvel developing they realise there is way more available.
They realise they want their child's best qualities to shine, and for their hearts to be nurtured. They want to give their child the gift of belonging and then finding their own wings - and what a gift this is!
(This article was adapted from a previously published blog post 'Meeting the needs, right here and now')