Kawakawa Service Camp – why do we offer it to the Adolescents?

By Hilary Asquith –  Lead Teacher Kawakawa

Service Camp is an extension of the community work we do at school. However, it adds experiential layers to the complexity of working and living independently and participating in community life. The Kawakawa camps are an important feature of our Montessori adolescent education programme, an opportunity to live in a community with others and be required to make a contribution.  It is not uncommon for us as staff, and likely for you as parents, to hear that our community service mahi is some form of slave labour. Ākonga are often begrudging of their energy and efforts in these endeavours. So often is the case though, that once the work is complete, the students will often say things like, “that was actually quite fun” or “it wasn’t that bad.”

It is therefore important that we as the adults have a good understanding of why we ask what we do of our ākonga in order to help them reflect on these changing perspectives, and aid them to find satisfaction and accomplishment in the work they complete and the value they add. Additionally, we also want them to truly understand and appreciate that it takes the efforts of the collective to make the whole function well. Learning to tidy up after themselves, not keeping others awake at night, taking a turn to clean the bathroom, cooking a meal, doing the dishes, or vacuuming the dining room, are all parts of that shared experience. Learning to negotiate and challenge the fairness of others contributions is also an important learning aspect of that experience. It is a powerful, persuasive lesson when your friends call you to account about the mess you have made and failed to clean up, or your group notes that you keep skipping out when it’s your group’s turn to do the dishes. These are messages that ākonga are often not willing to hear from parents or teachers but they will take on-board hearing from friends and peers. These experiences aid the lived understanding that everyone needs to contribute to make community work well. It is also just as important to learn to advocate for yourself when you feel that you are doing more than your share or you need support for the mahi you are undertaking. Community works best when we are all heard, supported and compassionate to the needs of others and ourselves.

A Journey of Te Reo Māori

By Ava Szabo –  Principal 

Kia Ora Koutou,

During this term, like many others at school, I have been studying te reo Māori.  My study is thorugh Kāuru. 

Kāuru was founded on the premise that each consecutive generation must be better than the one that has gone before, if te reo Māori is to flourish and prosper. Their mission is to grow and strengthen an education workforce that can integrate te reo Māori into the learning of all ākonga and students in Aotearoa, New Zealand.

Our learning is a combination of night classes and noho wānanga. This weekend I was part of my first noho wānanga held in Ōtaki at Raukawa Marae.

This was a wonderful weekend of ako (learning) and understanding; building a foundation on which to grow our knowledge. We spent time learning about and discussing five important Mātāpono (māori principles), what they mean and how we give them expression. These are so important and definitly worth sharing. 

  1. Māiatanga –  To be bold, courageous, confident. One whakatauki that embodies this trait is ‘Tuwhitia te hopo’ – Feel the fear and do it anyway.
  2. Takohatanga – To give tirelessly for the greater good. To serve others for their betterment, not your own. Achieving positive transformation into Te ao mārama, the state of knowing and understanding. Whakatauki – Nā tō rourou, nā taku rourou ka ora ai te iwiWith your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive.
  3. Rangatiratanga – To lead by example, to be humble, bring others together. Whakatauki – Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini – My success is not mine alone, but it is the strength of many.
  4. Manaakitanga – Caring and supportive, encouraging and enhancing others. Whakatauki – He taonga rongonui te aroha ki te tangata – Goodwill towards others is a precious treasure.
  5. Whanoketanga – Disruptive innovation, promoting the unique and unorthodox. Whakatauki –  Rukuhia te wāhi ngaro – Explore the unknown. 

What I have learnt is that this is the start of a journey.

A journey I highly recommend.

Independence and choice

Anna McLean – Preschool Deputy Principal

“The child has to acquire physical independence by being self-sufficient; he must become of independent will by using in freedom his own power of choice; he must become capable of independent thought by working alone without interruption.  The child’s development follows a path of successive stages of independence, and our knowledge of this must guide us in our behaviour towards him.”

The Absorbent Mind, pg. 257, Clio Press, 1992

When we talk about physical independence we are usually referring to the practical life skills that a child needs to master in order to gain independence:  being able to put on their shoes, carry their school bag, hang up their coat, do up a zip or buttons on clothing etc.  The keywords are “being self-sufficient”.  Montessori refers to the child’s development being a path of successive stages of independence.  In the busyness of life, it is easy to carry on doing the tasks that were necessary when a child was very young and incapable of being independent.  As time passes, a toddler will want to take control and do things for themselves, commonly around the age of two, which is often referred to as “the terrible twos”. Their developing will see them wanting to do the activities that they see others doing.  This is a clue for us as adults to adapt our behaviour to allow for a greater level of independence to occur.  Think about the signs you see in your child of them wanting to be self-sufficient and see what changes you can make to support that need. 

As preschool teachers we talk about independence being one of the goals of Montessori education.  Within the prepared environment of a preschool classroom, once a child has been given a lesson on an activity they are free to choose it again and again. Repetition of an activity is an important aspect of becoming self-sufficient and gaining mastery and consequently being able to act in an independent way.  It is through this freedom to choose and being able to work with an activity by themselves, without interruption and for as long as they wish that concentration and the development of the will can develop.   Being able to exercise choice is also about having limits.  For example, if a child is not able to make a choice of work, a kaiako will consider what lessons they have had and offer them a limited number of choices, say two or three.  It is through this limitation that a child can consider which option they prefer and make a choice.   The same limitation of choice can be used at home. Parents can make choices they are comfortable with and then give limited choices: what to eat, what to wear, what stories to read, etc.  Give it a go and see how it works!  By choosing a Montessori education you have already opened the door to your child becoming more independent and being able to make choices.