Pukutākaro – Hutt City Council program – Term 2, 2022

By Scott McLeod  – Sports

Play is important for our health and wellbeing, we want to get our kids out exploring and being active.

Play is essential for our cognitive, physical, social and emotional development. It builds fundamental physical literacy, fosters creativity and innovation and builds our ability to identify and manage risk.

Play contributes to not only children’s lives but also the well-being of whānau and the wider community.

Play is where tamariki practice life.

Last month Wā Ora Montessori were lucky enough for the Hutt City Council to bring the Pukutākaro program to our school. Pukutākaro is a project which promotes free play – independent of adult support. Hutt City Council parked their van up and placed their ‘wow’ items and ‘big ticket’ sports gears in our school courts and encouraged students to interact with the gear in a way that is personal and meaningful to them. Through the process we saw cooperation, negotiation, and sometimes conflict. Arming our children with the skills to navigate these situations is very important. It was great to see our

tamariki playing more often and interacting with different children throughout the school.

Montessori values the importance of play for learning, believing that children have a drive to explore and learn from their environment and acknowledged play as the ideal way to provide that opportunity. The pukutākaro program offered our students the opportunity for movement, sensory exploration and hands-on experiences in a relaxed environment. The students were able to be independent and think for themselves through using their own imaginations without the pressure of competition and to play at their own pace with their friends.

The flexible nature of play supports all children by following the individual child however, not all play styles will be suitable for all children; some children like rough play e.g. rugby, whilst others may prefer solitary play or co-operative fantasy play. For us teachers it offered a valuable chance to sit back and observe and interpret the activities the children adapted. It allowed us to follow the child’s play rather than impose our own rules or agenda on the play. Montessori advocated that adults caring for children should resource the environment to allow play to develop naturally and flourish independently. Elements such as freedom of choice, repetition, exploration, active hands-on experiences and peer-to-peer learning highlight a strong symbiosis between Montessori education and play-based learning.

Maria Montessori wrote ‘Grown-ups think of play as a purposeless occupation that keeps children happy and out of mischief, but actually when children are left to play by themselves very little of their activity is purposeless.’ (p17).

Hopefully the children and their families enjoyed the two week pukutākaro program. Ben from HCC said that ‘It was great to see parents engaging with their children at the after school pick up time and it was the busiest school he had seen this year’

Incorporating Montessori in the home

By Belinda Rodrigues –  Tawhai Teacher

A little of Montessori might be the perfect way to keep the children’s brains active, without breaking out the textbooks. (Has anyone Googled how much extra screen time actually turns the brain to mush?) The Montessori Method is a child-led approach to teaching that focuses on a child’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development. You can introduce as much or as little of the method at home as works for your child, starting with nature walks, visual math skills, or even etiquette. Does the Montessori Method actually work in a real-world setting?

Everything Has a Place

Children love order. Help your kids understand where everything goes, and they’ll enjoy returning toys and clothing to their proper place. You would have to make some adjustments in your home environment to help your children succeed, like; Mount hooks down low for your children’s coats, hats, etc. / Stack up rugs, and show them how to use one for working with puzzles, or other activities

Empower Your Child with Independence & Self-Motivation

Help your child learn to prepare their own snacks. Show them how to spread peanut butter on bread, and how to slice a banana with a safe knife. Give children the freedom to explore pouring their own water from a child-sized jug into a small cup. Let them use glass cups every now and then. It teaches cause and effect, and how to care for nice things – Keep a stack of clean rags easily accessible for spills / Pour over a tray to catch any spills.

Equip Your Children with Tools for Lifelong Success

One of the most striking aspects of a Montessori classroom is the air of mutual respect and courtesy throughout. Teach your children how to warmly greet visitors to their house. Demonstrate how to handle a cough or sneeze, show compassion, and respond politely when someone addresses them. Instruct them on how to push their chair back into the table, how to answer the phone politely, and how to avoid interrupting conversations.

“Help me do it myself”

Encourage your child to take an active part in caring for his home. Maintain a positive attitude about household chores. Cleaning should be associated with bringing about a sense of completion and order. Young children want to spend time with you. Instead of sending him off to clean his room, try to include him in whatever task you’re completing.

The Absorbent mind

Children learn by observation, more than being told the way things work. Encourage your child to explore the world through hands-on experiences, like nature walks and creating gardens.

Love for Learning

Your goal is to inspire your child’s natural zeal for learning. – Read aloud, whenever and wherever you can / Introduce the alphabet using multiple senses like sandpaper letters, listen to the sound a letter makes in a word, and rearrange magnetic letters to make words / Introduce number and quantity by counting household items.

Your role in impacting your child’s future is unique, fundamental, and powerful. You are, after all, in charge of nurturing their earliest childhood development. By creating the right environment, and supporting their interests, you can create your own Montessori-inspired home.