At the heart of everything we do at Natural Steps is the child.
For a child to learn and develop, they must be secure and happy. From this base, the child can then, with the support of well-trained, caring and experienced early childhood teachers, and in a well-resourced learning environment have fun and learn.
We aim to develop apositive attitude and disposition towards learningin each and every child. Learning is most effective when a child is able to interact freely, feels comfortably challenged and most importantly is happy and having fun. At Natural Steps, every encounter is an opportunity to learn; a holistic approach in which children learn through everything they do as active, investigative learners.
Children's learning is supported by our philosophy, vision, our guiding values and based on Te Whàriki, the New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum. We incorporate aspects of theEmmi Pikler Approachand theReggio Emilia Approach into our programme.
Great attention is given to the look and feel of the children's learning room. The environment is considered the "third teacher". Teachers carefully organise the space for small and large group learning and small intimate spaces for one, two or three children to play together.
Teachers foster agrowth mindsetwhere children are supported to reach their full potential and to develop their talents, learn to love challenges and embrace effort.
Infant Care and Learning
Our teachers provide a safe and loving environment where infants can grow and develop early independence. Inspired by the work of Emmi Pikler our Nursery room is an environment which allows children to discover as much as possible on their own, with the comfort of knowing that their teacher is close by.
Emmi Pikler Approach
On the journey to identify quality care and education of infants and toddlers the centre was lead to pediatrician Dr Emmi Pikler. The Pikler approach is based on a respectful relationship between an adult and infant, through choreographed tender care moments, a naturally paced motor development, free movement and uninterrupted play.
At Natural Steps we believe to understand and know the child there must be consistency of care. Therefore we practice whānau care. This is when one teacher will take the lead role in caring for the child during the day, with the other teachers work as a support role. This approach is based on a stance of utmost respect for the child.
Toddler Care and Learning
We haveoutstanding teacher to child ratiosin this room. 1 teacher to 5 children when the Ministry of Education state a 1/10 ratio. We recognise that this age group display a range of emotions – such as happiness, sadness, anger and fear and the best care and education this age group can receive is caring knowledgeable adults to support there emotional and social development.
To support our toddlers to grow self-regulation skills we also have a lot of space in the room for them to move and multiplies of the same toys (sharing will be learnt) so everyone can play.
Preschool Care and Education
The learning programme focuses is on building each child's unique interests, dispositions, strengths and key competencies for their transition to school.
Children's natural curiosity about the world and interests are strengthened throughin-depth project work, which enables children to develop question and problem solving skills, to reflect on learning and develop a deeper love for learning.
We also have a nature programmewhich connects children to the natural environment through meaningful outdoor experiences, from muddy trips to the local reserve to caring for plants and insects in our children's garden. We believe this learning develops lifelong skills while enjoying being in the moment and having fun.
Reggio Emilia Approach
At Natural Steps we are inspired by The Reggio Emilia Approach. We are a member of the Reggio Emilia Aotearoa New Zealand. The centre regularly has teachers attending workshops, seminars, conferences and centre tours in New Zealand and internationally (Reggio Melbourne Study Tour, Australia and Reggio Emilia Conference, Italy).
The Reggio Emilia Approach is an educational philosophy started in Reggio Emilia in Italy. Its signature educational philosophy is recognized worldwide for its innovative approach to education.
Pathways to School
Going to 'big school' is a wonderful milestone. There are close parallels between the early childhood curriculum, Te Whariki and the New Zealand School Curriculum. Our learning programme actively supports both. Children are assisted to understand that our brain works like a muscle, which can only grow through hard work, determination, and lots of practice.
We aim to empower children with the love of learning so that they become confident life long learners. We teach children self help skills, life skills, knowledge and dispositions to be able to cope and enjoy the challenges of life and to prepare them for a smooth transitions from centre to school.