My name is Greta and I am an early childhood teacher at Best Start Leeds Street. At our centre we are always striving to find new ways to celebrate and reflect back to our tamariki their uniqueness and cultural heritage. The tamariki (children) at Leeds Street, just like the people of Aotearoa New Zealand, are a diverse collection of different cultural backgrounds and identities. We work together with our whanau and tamariki to commemorate important events and celebrations.
Recently we finished up several weeks of exploring Chinese New Year. To grow our tamariki’s understanding of this cultural celebration we took a group of tamariki to a local Asian supermarket and afterwards held a ‘taste-testing’ experience. The tamariki explored the year of the Ox by sculpting their own ox creations out of clay and wire. We celebrated all together in a dragon dance with the Kaiako (teachers) and tamariki through our centre.
This year we are holding a blue and yellow disco dress up day on the 19th of March to celebrate World Down Syndrome Day. Working together with Coopers whanau we want to make this day special and fun for him and all the tamariki. We will be decorating our classroom, and through dancing and music, taking the day to come together to show our support and love for this community.
Cooper has such a bright, curious and cheeky personality. He is constantly making myself and our teaching team laugh and making our day with his gorgeous smile. He has recently moved over from our infant and toddler room and is now a big pre-schooler. Cooper has taken on this change with such resilience and proved his ability to take on these new learning challenges . He is already such a beloved member of our preschool whanau. Part of supporting Coopers communication is helping him learn and expand his already amazing skills in New Zealand Sign Language. This has given me the challenge of learning a new language that not only helps to grow Coopers communication but all of the tamariki and Kaiako in our centre.
We love celebrating all the things that make us who we are. Showing our tamariki that loving yourself and your individuality through collective celebrations is an important learning experience and something I hope they will carry with them as they grow up.