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New Entrants & Play-Based Learning

“Mum, why didn’t Day Care teach me what school was going to be like?”
Olivia G

We welcome our New Entrant and Year 1 students into Te Kete Wakahuia. Here our focus is on easing the transition from the Early Childhood Education environment to school environment. This transition is so important because it can affect a student’s whole experience of school. We make this a positive and productive experience through our personalised approach to learning, which teaches the children as they like to learn—through play.

Our approach to play-based learning provides our children with long periods of uninterrupted play time. There are also times when they come together as a group to learn to listen to each other, share information, follow rules and partake in group activities and workshops. During play time, students have the opportunity to follow their own interests. They are encouraged to initiate activities and be self-directed with the support of their teachers. They learn to take ownership of their learning. They will be gently moulded into independent children with initiative and the confidence to take risks, knowing that there is no right or wrong way.

Through play, children are able to develop socially, emotionally, physically, and cognitively. Play-based learning helps us to transition between the Early Childhood Education curriculum, Te Whāriki, to the school-focused New Zealand Curriculum. To further support this shift to formal learning, we employ the “Smart Moves” motor skills development programme.

Perhaps play would be more respected if we called it something like self-motivated practice of life skills, but that would remove the lightheartedness from it and thereby reduce its effectiveness.”

Peter Gray,Free to Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life (2015)