The Burrow at Oma Rāpeti is where you will find the youngest members of our whānau . Children in this room vary in age up to around about 2years old. This upper age varies as children transition from this room on a readiness basis rather than an age basis. Oma Rāpeti is licensed for 12 children under two but The Burrow is operated with 3 teachers alongside 10 children. Children attend for a minimum of 12 hours per week in order to foster connection and relationships.
The teachers at Oma Rāpeti are influenced by the works of Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber alongside other theorists and have specific training in this work. Our approach is calm and at a child's pace giving children time to process happenings, participate and take the lead where appropriate. Our approach is play and care based.
As our practice with children and whānau is based on relationships and the notion of respect, the building of strong relationships is imperative to the programme and underpins all our work. We believe in the value of building trusting relationships with consistent professional teachers. One way we foster this notion is through a main caregiving system. If you are not familiar with this system it is where each child and family have two main care teachers. This enables the teachers and family to develop a strong healthy attachment and know that one of the two teacher is consistently there for them all. This healthy attachment helps the child feel comfortable, secure and happy, which positively impacts on learning and development. This system also enables consistency in care and allows teachers to be responsive to children's needs.
We believe that there is valuable learning in the care moments, and therefore treasure these moments with the children. The two main teachers will be predominantly responsible for the child's well-being including their care moments, alongside documentation of the child and communication with the family. Care moments include meal times, settling, nappy changing and sleep times. As these main relationships are not exclusive the main teachers will be supported by the other team members at times when the main carers may not be immediately available. We believe that these care moments/routines hold valuable learning opportunities and we embrace them. We acknowledge that it is through these care moments that strong relationship, emotional connection and trust can form with children and whānau . In order for a healthy attachment to form it is essential that these main relationships are predictable and stable but not exclusive.
Children are invited in to partnership and they are given time to respond to requests and invitations. We model respectful relationships.
Our approach is responsive to the children's needs and are met in a timely and predictable fashion as team members identify cues and learn about each individual child. The rhythm of the room is different for each individual child as we follow their cues and needs. Our way of being with each child and family differs depending on their needs. We embrace individual ways of being and personal care preferences are worked with. As our relationships deepen with whānau and children we learn more from them and adapt accordingly. We allow children to sleep when tired, eat when hungry and play how they are innately programmed to play thus learn. We are able to respond in such a way because we learn children's unique ways of communicating and their subtle cues.
We aim to have a teacher grounded and available to children at all times. We are in the early stages of exploring a more formal care teacher/play teacher system to continue to support our calm and safe environment where a teacher remains available.
In the Burrow we work alongside children giving them a hand up rather than solving their problems for them. This means that we allow children time to problem solve and this sometimes involves struggle. During these challenging or frustrating times the teachers support in many different ways, encouraging them to use their skills and offering solutions when needed, often just being close by is ample support. During these times of struggle the team allows children to feel their feelings, offering support but not assuming children want it, this helps them to develop their emotional intelligence. During times of conflict and emotional expression children are comforted, supported 1-1 as necessary and acknowledged but allowed to express their emotions. We allow your children plenty of time to move freely and naturally as they are capable, this means that we allow children to choose the positions that they want to be in, we aim to not place a child in a position that they cannot get into by themselves. We allow them to explore freely in their own time. Magda Gerber says "All children accomplish milestones in their own way, in their own time". We work alongside them at the stage they are at. Our resources and spaces are open ended and as natural as possible and reused everyday objects. Careful observation of children's interests and urges/schema allows us to provide relevant resources to support children's learning and encourage exploration. Children are allowed to move resources as they desire and re-invent the environment as their urges drive them to. They are allowed to use resources in non-conventional ways. They are the scriptwriter, director and actor in their own play. We strongly believe that a teacher's role in children's play environment is to be a supporter and emotional pillar. We encourage children to be active participants in all aspects of the room and they are offered choices and we follow their leads. While children have freedom in the room we still set clear limits and boundaries to ensure that all children feel safe and experience a sense of belonging and protection in our room.
We are able to reconfigure the physical space of the room to reflect the needs of the children enrolled. For example to create a safe area for infants who are not yet mobile or an extra sleeping space or just a smaller cosier space for children to relax and refuel in.
Children's readiness is valued and assessed seriously when any transitions happen. (e.g. changes from a cot to a stretcher in sleep time, from a teacher's lap to a mushroom chair in a meal time, from the Burrow to the Meadow)
In the Burrow we aim to meet children and families where they are at. We gently guide and support them to be the best parents that they can be, as we aspire to be the best teachers that we can be. Our open communication and support helps build these connections with children parents.
We believe that it is through providing an environment for the child that is physically safe, cognitively challenging and emotionally nurturing that children feel safe and secure with a sense of belonging and ownership of the Burrow. It is from this base that the rest of the Te Whāriki our curriculum can be developed and children's learning and development can deepen.