Child's learning & development

We believe children develop at their own rate and in their own individual way.  We believe it is critical to create an environment that is stimulating, interesting and supportive so that every individual that attends Sand Dunes has lots of developmentally appropriate meaningful experiences. We provide a wide variety of different learning areas that are developmentally appropriate where a child learns through their play and extensive interactions with teachers, peers and materials.

Staff will provide numerous and ongoing opportunities for the child to engage in large group, small group and individual experiences. Children will be put into developmental groups where they will get involved in an experience that interest them, challenge them, and extends their prior learning.

Group 1 Koiti (little fingers, little toes) approx 3 months – 15 months.

Group 2 Mahira (Curious) approx 15 months – 2 ½ years.>

Group 4 Tauira (skilled people) approx 2 ½ years to 5 years.

These experiences will be driven from the children’s interests and curiosity and will include learning areas like, music, art, drama, storytelling, early numeracy and literacy, science properties and concepts, gross and fine motor experiences and manipulative play.  

We believe the integration of Te Reo into our curriculum is a vital part of a child’s holistic development.  We endeavor to feature Te Reo into our daily programme regularly through waiata, educational games, instructions, dance and books, simple words and phrases like colours, days of the week, objects, and numbers.   

Koiti & Mahira (Under three’s)

These groups range from three months to three years of age (approx). This environment is a nurturing, warm and caring atmosphere. The high staff to child ratio supports the safe and secure environment where an infant to toddler can confidently learn through play and sensory experiences. Staff will follow the infants sleep and eating routine according to the infants needs.

The infants are provided with nutritional meals breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea and a late snack working together with the heart foundation guidelines for healthy eating. The infant will explore stimulating experiences that support holistic development focusing on learning through sensory and heuristic play. Infants will have lots of opportunities for floor play and tummy time, gross motor and fine motor development, messy and tactile play. They are surrounded by loving, encouraging and supportive interactions that maintain and extend the infants emotional wellbeing.

Daily the toddler will engage in a variety of play experiences where they experience storytelling, puppetry, singing and music, dancing, finger play and rhymes, small group play, finger painting, messy play, drawing and painting, dough work and dramatic play, They will explore puzzles and manipulative play with stacking toys and blocks. Staffs provide opportunities for the development for sensory motor skills like sorting shapes and toys, colour and shape toys, matching games, body awareness experiences, fitting objects into containers and shapes and emptying and filling containers. Staff will encourage the exploration of sand and water and other materials, developing fine and gross motor skills, with and without tools such as balls (throwing and kicking) bikes and riding toys.

The toddler is encouraged to run, jump, climb, slide and roll to gain control of their bodies exploring co-ordination, crossing the midline, stability and balance. Staff will support and encourage the transition from a highchair to a chair, bottle to cup, cot to stretcher and toilet training when the child and parents are ready. The under two’s have a separate indoor and outdoor environment which is developmentally appropriate. Toddlers and infants interact and mix with the over three’s for mat times, music sessions, sharing times, story times, puppet shows, group experiences and throughout the day establishing relationships and social skills. They are supported in the over three’s environment by under three’s teachers working alongside them as they explore and gain familiarity and a sense of belonging in this environment. When the toddler is progressing into the over three’s environment they are involved in a transition program. Please refer to the transition policy for more information on the transition.

Tauira (Over three’s)

This group ranges from three to five year olds (approx).  The over three’s also have a cooked nutritional lunch prepared and cooked on the premises. The child will also have healthy breakfast, morning tea, afternoon tea and a late snack working together with the heart foundation guidelines for healthy eating. Meal times are an important part of our day where children develop social skills, independence and basic table manners. Before each meal the children say a karakia in Te Reo. The transition programme involves lunch boxes four weeks prior to starting school.

The environment is suited to stimulate and interest the variety of ages and abilities of each individual and is filled with rich resources providing educational and developmental value. Each child is provided with the same resources, experiences and activities but scaffolded to be developmentally appropriate for them. The toddler and young child is encouraged to actively explore their environment and constructively use the resources and materials provided to create a love of learning. We believe in creating a supportive, enthusiastic, challenging, interesting and stimulating environment to promote problem solving, risk taking, discoveries and curiosity. The toddler and young child is encouraged to engage in free play individually, in peers or groups. The emphasis is on learning through self directed play with the child having access to wide variety of resources, materials, games, and equipment.  

Teachers play and work alongside the child co-constructing, learning, discovering and extending knowledge according to the child’s interests and abilities. Throughout the day teachers also offer structured learning experiences as well as teacher directed lessons and activities such as music sessions, art experiences, making resources such as pois and musical instruments. Dramatic play experiences such as role play and puppet shows are also regularly initiated along with small and large group games, baking, food prep, parachute play and socio dramatic play. Teachers provide learning experiences throughout the day for developmentally appropriate learning, by initiating learning experiences such as story telling, making jewellery, rugby games, making volcanoes, puzzles, running races, writing story and drawing pictures, planting seeds, building rockets at the carpentry table, finger painting or gloop.

The child explores different learning areas through the assortment of resources, experiences, materials and interactions. We believe in providing core daily activities to support the holistic development of the child exploring their physical, emotional, social and cognitive development.
Our core daily learning areas involve music, science, outdoor education, literacy, maths, drama and storytelling, manipulative play, messy and tactile play, technology, self management, social and cooperative skills.

As the young child progresses towards school years, the child begins a transition to school programme where daily they are engaged in a school like class consisting of a small group and one teacher preparing for this transition. Please see our Transition to school programme for more information on this. Sand Dunes have developed strong relationships with the local schools in the area and will work in partnership with parents to prepare school visits for the child.