Children benefit from high quality, purpose-built facilities and resources. The nurturing, respectful and vibrant learning environments for children strongly reflect the centre’s philosophy and focus on holistic learning and healthy living.(Education Review Report, 2015)
Minerva House is a preschool that values the uniqueness of each child as both a gift and an opportunity. We create learning environments that are respectful of the child as he/she makes meaning of the world in which we live. Our teachers relate to each child with warmth and acceptance.
“Children can choose from a rich variety of activities that stimulate and encourage their thinking, language and mathematical development. They also have ongoing opportunities to engage in a wide range of dramatic, imaginative and physical exercise activities in a spacious room designed for this purpose. (Education Review Office 2015)
The Minerva House early childhood curriculum is inspired by internationally accepted and celebrated best teaching practice from around the world, such as Montessori, Rudolf Steiner and Te Whariki, New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum document.
The curriculum focuses on inquiry based learning. The natural curiosity of young children is stimulated as they take an active role in the education process by exploring their environment to make inquiries and discoveries. Skilled teachers can guide this process in a way that supports the children’s own ideas and extends learning. Global concepts are explored through units of inquiry, or ‘big ideas’ which are developmentally appropriate, significant, challenging and engaging for the children. Daily activities are integrated into these units to make them more meaningful.
Each child has a primary caregiver or key teacher to take a particular interest in the development, learning and wellbeing of each child. The needs of each child are identified through observation and documentation of their interests, development, progress and parent input. Through this deeper knowledge, key teachers carefully plan small group learning experiences to meet the individual learning needs and goals of each child in the group. Key teacher group times also allow teachers to work on a one on one basis with each child at different times. The learning and development of each child is carefully recorded in a growing document about the child, these profile books will become meaningful and valuable records of each child’s early childhood experience at Minerva House.
Leadership of the centre is a significant strength. High quality systems are in place to sustain and improve effective centre management and leadership. (Education Review Office 2015)
Minerva House is committed to developing the whole child through socialisation, nurturing creativity, respect, healthy living, love of nature, cognitive growth and physical activity.
Early childhood is the period of the most intense and the most crucial socialisation. It is then that children learn the fundamentals of our culture. It is also when much of their personality takes shape.
At Minerva House we are committed to help each child develop positive values and social competencies in order to become successful members of our society. We try to establish informal classrooms where activities are built around projects in which peers can establish skills for collaboration and activity partnership. We try to create an atmosphere where children feel free to role play and experiment with interactions in their games.
We incorporate art into every aspect of our curriculum. In addition to its academic purpose, art is a means of personal expression. Our designated arts room provides opportunities to become creative throughout the day, either alone or as a group.
Drama engages the imagination, makes learning purposeful and promotes critical thinking so that children can formulate and express their own opinions. A child in acting out roles is learning compassion and tolerance for others’ feelings and viewpoints. Drama takes place in our well equipped multi-purpose room.
Music plays an important part at Minerva House. We sing songs and listen to the music of famous composers. The children learn rhythm and are able to join in using a wide range of percussion and other simple instruments. Rhythmic exercises involve motor skills and here, once again, our spacious multi-purpose room provides the perfect environment.
It is our aim to instil in each child a sense of respect for themselves, others and for the world we live in. Our curriculum is culturally diverse and we work at fostering the attitudes of tolerance, respect and appreciation within our diverse community. Celebrations of different cultures are recognised throughout the year.
Healthy living and more specifically, healthy eating is one of our main goals for each child. Our on-site chef uses fresh vegetables, whole grains and avoids the use of processed food. Our menu offers a wide variety of meals, from healthy versions of children’s favourites to dishes from around the world adapted to preschooler’s palates. A great way for the children to learn about nutrition is to assist with the cooking and baking. This is an easy way to familiarise them with food they may normally be hesitant to taste. In 2012 Minerva House received the Healthy Heart “Gold” Award from the NZ Heart Foundation, for creating an environment that promotes nutritional health and physical activity.
Love of nature:
In our John Allen designed outdoor play area, children are encouraged to explore nature in the form of sand, water, mud, trees, rocks, bushes and little creatures. A mix of paths, inclines, hillocks, fences and varied elevations inspires children to engage in all sorts of creative explorations, ranging from the care for a vegetable garden to digging up an earth worm.
Our programme strikes a balance between teacher-planned and facilitated learning experiences and child-led free play. Both aspects of the curriculum are important for learning, development and wellbeing. Each child’s key teacher carefully observes development and identifies areas of interest where learning can be extended. Key teachers communicate regularly with parents to identify areas of parent concern or particular aspirations parents may have for their child. With all this in mind teachers develop both individual and small group learning programmes to help each child reach their goals and increase their development and knowledge across the curriculum. As children approach school age our specialist teacher will work closely with them to ensure they leave Minerva House prepared for happiness and success beyond our walls. Children will be involved in teacher facilitated learning experiences in science, geography, nature, literacy, numeracy, art, music, drama, physical development and more.
Children love to move! It is the primary way they explore their environment and discover the world. Several studies even suggest that early motor behaviour plays an important role in social, emotional, and later academic related activities. At Minerva House we are committed to giving every child the opportunity to become physically active at various times during the day. Our teacher guided sports and movement programme engages infants and toddlers in non-competitive interactive games, sports and yoga exercises which emphasize flexibility, confidence and emotional well-being to build strong bodies and minds. From three years of age, children will also be exposed to activities that focus on developing the skills that form the basis of football, netball, rugby, hockey, tennis, athletics, cricket, gymnastics and other sports.
Preparing for School, Preparing for Life
Moving on to primary school is a significant milestone for each child and their family, and early childhood education plays an important part in the success of that transition from early to middle childhood. As early childhood educators, our role is not only to specifically prepare children for school, but to prepare them for everything they encounter in life beyond Minerva House, and moving on to primary school is a big part of that.
What makes a successful transition to school? Being ready for school means so much more than knowing the alphabet and counting to ten, there are a myriad of skills children need, to truly be ready to thrive and grow in those early months and years at school. To be able to write their own name, to have a basic understanding of the decimal system with counting and simple adding, to recognise the letters of the alphabet and know each sound rather than just the name of each letter, to be able to use scissors, to have developed pencil control, to be able to express an idea, ask a question, risk an answer and follow an instruction. To have the confidence and social skills to make new friends, to have the resilience to overcome challenges, to have the independence to manage their own clothes, lunch and belongings, these are all important skills that once acquired allow children to make the most of every learning experience and opportunity beyond our walls. Most of all, we strive to ensure that every child in our care learns to love learning, to find joy and satisfaction in uncovering learning in all aspects of the curriculum. These are the goals of parents, and here at Minerva House they are our goals too, that as each child leaves our fold we say farewell knowing that they are well prepared, that their future is bright.
While we have our own goals, the most important goals to us are the goals of parents and family! We want to know what each parent wants for their child, what their own goals and aspirations are so that we can best support each child’s development in line with their parents’ needs for them.
At Minerva House, we have many gifted teachers, with a wealth of knowledge, experience and passion for their work with children. They are experts, but none can know more about a child than that child’s parents, therefore at Minerva House parents are valued as skilled experts, and parent input will always be sought and acted on.
School at five? While most children start school around their 5th birthday, all children develop at their own pace and not every child is ready for this step when they turn five years of age. At Minerva House we are licensed to provide education to children up to age six. Many parents are unaware that due to the way New Zealand schools operate, children who start school from May onwards in any given year, generally will be in the same year group and school level as children who start school anytime from May through to March the following year. This means that many children can benefit from extra time at Minerva House and still remain in the same year group as their same age peers. It may be that some extra months spent at Minerva House better equips some children for a more successful, later start at school. Whenever each child is ready for school, our programme offers an excellent start, ensuring that Minerva House children leave our centre prepared not just for school, but for life.