Our Centre's Sustainability & Healthy Eating

The early years are the most important years for establishing healthy eating habits. Our centre is committed to providing a programme with our children, families and wider community where we promote and establish healthy choices & sustainable practices for our future children to improve their quality of life and living.

Our objective is to implement an environment and program that focuses on developing and sharing healthy food choices and behaviours. We strive to teach our children important life skills and knowledge about how to keep themselves healthy by healthy eating and healthy behaviour. We incorporate active involvement in their learning, ultimately aiming in sharing this knowledge and learning to the wider world and community creating a positive and healthy living environment.

We want to encourage through our curriculum and environment and through an extension to the wider community an understanding about what we can do to look after our planet and our bodies.

We want to encourage our children to learn their responsibility to the environment by reducing and reusing waste, and learning about using our natural resources to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

We have a vegetable garden in the centre that the children will maintain throughout the different seasons. We have a worm farm which contributes to our compost to fertilise our garden. We grow all the vegetables and herbs that we will need for our weekly menus (which have been approved already by the healthy heart award) and also extend this to fruit plants and trees such as apple, plum, peach and strawberry and tomato plants.

Our focus is to encourage the children to eat what they grow and develop an appreciation for where food comes from. We hope that this will encourage an interest and enthusiasm for healthy food which will be taken from the centre environment and shared in their home environment and wider community for example, grandparents, friends, cousins etc.

We believe in giving children the opportunity to see first-hand where food comes from and learn about how to maintain and care for their environment through a hands on approach. They will learn to take responsibility for their garden, nurturing and developing confidence in problem solving and persisting with difficulties. They will get to experiment with food and learn how to create a fabulous meal, jam or soup which they created from a seed. The children will develop a sense of pride and responsibility through these hands on meaningful activities, where their excitement and knowledge will grow alongside the garden growing.

How our programme will fit with the areas of holistic development.

ENVIRONMENT

The children will learn about their natural environment and the working theories surrounding it. They will begin to get an understanding for how our world works and how they can be involved in this. They will gain an appreciation for the natural world and an enthusiasm and interest to have an active part in preserving and looking after our world. They will gain knowledge about our world, how it works and where they fit into it. The children will be part of creating and maintaining an aesthetically pleasing environment where they can explore texture, taste, smell and sounds. From this they will be developing a respect for the living world.

CURRICULUM

Our programme covers all the main areas of the curriculum; it incorporates lots of different learning areas.

Science:

  • The children are involved in the research process on how to make a garden, what properties and products are involved. We will research which plants and flowers will grow best in what time of year and how to set them up best in our garden. The children will observe, talk about patterns and cycles, ask questions and predict further growth changes etc.
  • We will research different insects that will be attracted to our garden.
  • We will cover photosynthesis, composting and the cycle of waste, rot and putting everything back into the earth.

Math:

  • Counting, classifying, measuring, sequencing and sorting are just a few of the maths values that the children will experience through our programme.
  • We use a calendar to mark and record the days and dates of when the seeds will turn to plants and so on.
  • We have different types of graphs to document the measurements of the growths of our plants.

Outdoor Education:

  • The children will gain knowledge and skills about their living world outside! They will get to participate in an activity that is based outside in the fresh air and sunshine working hard to achieve success.
  • They will gain a sense of respect for the land and what it provides for us.
  • They will physically be involved with having to use tools to dig holes for the plants, take responsibility for watering them daily.
  • The children will get to be involved in the outside environment and design allowing them a sense of belonging in and respect for their environment.
  • Develop gross and fine motor skills.
  • Everything we endeavour to do will benefit the outdoors, bringing all this value and learning to the outdoors creating a natural and stimulating learning environment.

Music and Movement:

  • Learn songs, rhymes, and finger plays associated with keeping ourselves healthy, food preparation and physical activity.
  • We will sing to the plants as they grow.
  • Create a garden dance, swaying like trees and growing like plants.
  • We creating outdoor environment with music outside (natural surrounding sounds) as we tend to our garden to support and encourage learning.

Literacy:

  • Make books and journals documenting our journey from start to finish.
  • Children will draw pictures of their plants growing and write stories about their experiences.
  • Make a recipe book with the “children’s voice” and drawings.
  • Make book with different ideas for healthy snacks.
  • The children will have lots of opportunities to talk about and describe what is happening in the garden as the plants grow and develop. This will build the children’s vocabulary and confidence in asking questions and finding answers.
  • We will read lots of stories to the children about gardening and growing plants.
  • We will create a link to healthy eating on our website.

Community

We visit the local Palmers Garden World regularly to look at products and materials that we need and work in conjunction with them to maintain our gardens for example, visits from their staff. We visit other local shops and local gardens and farms to observe and explore other gardening in practice.
We visit local gardens and nature walks such as ‘Battle Hill’, ‘Colonial Knob’ and ‘The Botanical Gardens.

Philosophy & Vision

We believe in providing an environment and programme that focuses on a child’s holistic development. We believe it is important to be healthy in body, mind and spirit. We believe in working together with children and their families to provide a loving, homely, and inviting environment to service the aspirations of the wider community. Our policy is to provide children with opportunities so that they can grow into competent and confident learners and communicators healthy in body, mind and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society (From Te Whariki, New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum). We believe developing skills and knowledge about keeping ourselves healthy is an underpinning value to a child’s well-being and we aim in working alongside “our tamariki” to develop positive physical and emotional health.

Empowering Children/ Co-Curriculum

We believe that through these experiences the children will achieve a sense of achievement and responsibility ultimately empowering them to want to do, see and learn more about healthy choices. The children are developing self-responsibility and self-help and care skills which enable them to gain a sense of themselves as confident and competent learners. Children become empowered by observing, becoming involved, making discoveries, taking responsibility and achieving success. Through our programme the children will have the opportunity to choose a vegetable or fruit, prepare the garden, plant the seed, monitor its growth, feed and nurture it, and when the vegetable is right for the taking, retrieve it, prepare it for a healthy meal or snack, and enjoy! ...and of course start the process again!