One of the things that makes Folkestone Street such a unique ECE setting is the fact that our centre is licensed for tamariki from birth to only three years of age.
The choice to cap our age limit at three means that our toddlers are seen as ‘the big kids’, and are given opportunities for leadership and responsibility that aren’t normally available to them until the end of pre-school.
There’s not a lot of information about toddlers and leadership – often because they’re not given the same opportunities afforded to pre-schoolers, either being seen as not yet ready or simply not interested – however our kaiako would attest to the fact that this is simply not true! Having our two and a half to nearly three year olds as the oldest tamariki in the centre is such a magic time for them.
They relish in the sensation of being the oldest; of having the wisdom and experience to guide and inform their peers, of having the strong relationships with both kaiako and the environment which provides a safety net to take risks, share new ideas and search for challenges, and in mixed age moments love to take care of both our younger tamariki and the environment around them. Our ‘big kids’ love to help prepare kai in the kitchen, fold the washing, plant in the garden, give bottles, and choose resources and new experiences to share with their peers.
Our national curriculum ‘Te Whariki’ stresses the importance of having opportunities for leadership and responsibility before tamariki reach pre-school age, and our unique age setting means that our toddlers feel empowered to take on this role.