Grace and Courtesy in the akomanga

Ava Szabo – Principal

Kia ora koutou.

I was fortunate to attend our first Primary education evening held last week. The focus was grace and courtesy in Primary School. It was an informative evening and enjoyed by all who attended. For those who were not able to attend, but are interested in understanding more, I have put together a summary of the evening below.

We began with the Characteristics of the Primary Mind with reference to Grace and Courtesy. The development of these characteristics are a six-year long journey and include:

Intellectual Development with children moving from concrete to abstract thought. The reasoning mind is developing an understanding of cause and effect, e.g. ‘if I do this, these things will happen’. This also includes the development of a sense of justice and fairness, starting with ‘this is not fair to me’, but also developing into what is fair for others.

There is also the Development of the Imagination, children are able to imagine and think about another person’s point of view.

Social Development is huge, children like and want to be together. Grace and courtesy helps this happen in an appropriate way.

It can appear at times that grace and courtesy just doesn’t work! We need to look into the child’s reasoning mind. Just ‘telling off’ does not work (this is invariably adult driven) and children cannot learn for themselves if an adult is always ‘telling’. Restorative practice is also an important part of this journey.

There are many ways of passing grace and courtesy lessons on to our Primary ākonga.

The use of stories, role plays (which are very popular and are done at least once a day), class brainstorms and discussions and reflections on why things have happened (these often happen after an event when the class gathers for a chat).

Ākong have lessons on how to get on with each other and work together as they move into the second plane of development. These are short lessons and given to small groups when the need arises. They are important for social and emotional development as our ākonga learn how to get on with one another.

Class treaties are developed and built on at the start of each year and are different in each class. One example shared on the night was: Rights and Responsibilities. Ākonga have the right to work, eat and drink, be respected and ask for help when needed. With rights comes responsibility. The responsibility to let others work, cleaning up after myself, respecting and helping others.

The treaties are something ākonga always refer back to – they are living documents. In each class, ākonga get to the stage where they refer each other to the treaty when things go wrong. The treaties underpin everything that we do in grace and courtesy. You could say that grace and courtesy is the language of respect.

Odyssey Wrap

By Hilary Asquith – Kawakawa Head Teacher

The Odyssey is inspired by Maria Montessori’s vision of an adolescent farm school, where students would live, work, and learn together. While we can’t provide a full residential experience, our Odyssey gives our students a taste of what it’s like to live away from home for an extended period and be an active participant in a community.

During the Odyssey, our students will participate in activities like white-water rafting, bush survival workshops, and caving. These challenges often push our students outside their comfort zones, which can be anxiety-inducing initially but is often an opportunity for incredible personal growth. Ākonga learn to rely on each other and the adult team for support, which works to build a strong sense of trust, community, and appreciation of our interdependencies. Plus, they’ll learn valuable skills like problem-solving, adapting to others, communication, and collaboration that will serve them well in the future.

The Odyssey is also a chance for our students to appreciate our incredible New Zealand environment. They’ll learn about conservation and sustainability, and gain a deeper appreciation and respect for the natural world and our reliance on it.

I believe that the Odyssey can be a life-changing experience for our students. Over the course of the three Kawakawa years, students develop independence, resilience, and social organisation skills that will serve them well in the years ahead. They’ll learn to independently manage their own schedules, cook, clean, do laundry, and function as a cohesive group, even when tired and under pressure. They’ll also have the chance to explore their own identity and learn to communicate their needs and emotions effectively away from the regular security of their whānau.

At the heart of the Odyssey is the Montessori philosophy of education, which emphasises hands-on, experiential learning. We know that our students learn best by doing, and the Odyssey is a wonderful example of that. By engaging in emotional and physical challenges and working together, our students can develop skills and confidence that can last a lifetime.

We encourage all our Kawakawa students to take full advantage of this incredible opportunity. It’s a chance to strengthen friendships, develop leadership, learn new skills, and have a blast with good mates! We know that the Odyssey will be (possibly with time and hindsight) a highlight of their time at school, and the Kawakawa team loves to see first-hand the incredible growth and development that comes out of this unique and valuable experience. It takes an immense amount of effort and teamwork to make Odyssey happen each year and I am incredibly appreciative to work within such a wonderful community to make it happen – thank you.


By Suzanne Eaddy – Playgroup Coordinator

It has been so enjoyable and interesting welcoming our young tamariki back to playgroup. All the tamariki have developed so much and those who were crawling last year are now walking.

Our playgroup routine is flexible and based on the needs of tamariki, that they are happy to share. Morning tea is usually 10am but some mornings tamariki request (or start) to prepare the scones at 9.30am or state “I need/want food”.  At other times tamariki are all involved in activities and the adults get to prepare the food.

Previously I have not experienced such feedback with regard to an activity. At the beginning of this term we were kindly given a set of six activities, each with a different latch, and a small ‘door’ that lifts when the latch is undone (1st Photo). One of our frequently used activities is a stand with different coloured ‘doors’, each having a different type of latch (2nd photo). I was expecting a positive reaction to the new activity, with its shiny brass latches.

However, reaction to the new activity was one of disappointment from the 2-3 year olds. In conversation with their parents the children pointed out that the new activity had no real doors because there was no space behind them. The lift up doors were not windows either as there was nothing to see.

Upon reflection I had to agree with the tamariki. In its present form the new activity would not be reused, with the exception of one little boy who liked opening and closing the latches. I decided to create windows by placing a picture under each lift up ‘door’. When the revamped activity was re-presented to the children there was a positive, delighted response from each child (3rd 4th and 5th photos).

There are many Maria Montessori quotes about learning from/observing children (from a leadership role) and I think the following quote reflects the child’s view of the activities they use in a Montessori setting.

“The principal agent is the object and not the instruction given by the teacher. It is the child who uses the object: it is the child who is active, and not the teacher.”  [Maria Montessori, The Discovery of the Child p.150]

Unfortunately, the photos did not capture the instant ‘Wow’ moments of the tamariki, on their first glimpse of the pictures. However, given the initial feedback from tamariki our modified new activity may prove to be as popular as our old version (6th photo).