Tōtara Ākonga Contribution

During my first 4 weeks at Wā Ora I have noticed “space and time”.  The prepared environment is crucial and having 3-hour or longer work cycles means the kaiako can work with ākonga without interruption.  I asked some of our Tōtara ākonga what they thought – Nadine Smyth, Tōtara Teacher

What a Montessori school means to me:
Being able to choose your work freely and learning the responsibility to balance your own work and not having someone telling you what to do all of the time.  Being able to work with your friends and have a good time.  I feel like Montessori can help you to be more creative and not be boxed in.  Not having assignments all the time.

My mum likes it, more freedom to move, we have to pay money, no uniforms!!

The teachers make weird rules like “only two exclamation marks!! (in writing) and “no hat no play”.

We can choose where to sit, and choose what we want to do some of the time.  We have cool materials.

When I was at my last school, I had a very strict teacher.  She would literally tell me exactly what to do, you get told off a lot, especially for talking in the class and you do lots of work on your Chromebook.  We get to do lots of different things in Tōtara, I learn a lot of math and we can do sewing.

We get to do specialist classes.  I like art and P.E.

What tasks have you freely chosen today?
I have written a story about a girl and an evil person who lives in a mirror.   I have been practising addition on paper, I have read some of the “Augy and Me” book and done research on Guinea Pigs.  I have planned my journal and completed spelling.  I have assisted new members of the class with sewing, and setting up the machine.  Next, I plan to play “The Game of Awesome” (a writing game) with my friends.  I love games that include fun and learning with your friends.

We have worked on Grammar, writing, gone to technology, used the peg board, sewing, times tables, drawing, crochet.  Made fruit leather, harvested fruit, prepared it and put it in the dehydrator to make fruit leather.

Today, I worked on my project about the universe.  I did research using books from the Library.  We worked together on Lowest Common Multiple, using the material to follow up on the lesson that Anna gave us.  I did some colouring in, then I completed handwriting from a dictation.

Do you get your mahi (work) done and learn?
I enjoy the freedom I get here.  There is no one way to do work, there are multiple ways to get your work done.  I still work hard.  The teachers make work fun.

We get to do specialist classes.  I like art and P.E.

Can you just muck around all day?
No, the teachers remind us politely and then if we don’t listen, they sometimes take us to the teachers’ table and give us a lesson or work alongside us.  We then follow up on the lessons with equipment.  It is actually pleasantly nice.

Tē tōia, tē haumatia 
Nothing can be achieved without a plan, a workforce and a way of doing things.

The Social Curriculum in the Primary Years

By Tania Gaffney  – Deputy Principal Primary

The Second Plane of Development (6-12) is a time of great development of the mind for the child. They move from soaking things up unconsciously to becoming more reasoning, analytical, and conscious about what they are thinking about and doing. Therefore, the social aspect is very important to this age group. Tamariki are starting to see their peers as more important in their lives until, in the adolescent years, it seems to usurp the role of the family.

Because of this great social age, things may come up with your children that you have never had to deal with before in their pre-school years e.g. lying, arguing with friends, feeling left out. Children are driven by the necessity to figure out the rules of the social order of the community they are in. Trying to fit into a new class has its own set of hurdles, especially when the young 6-year-old is not always quite ready to be in an older environment.

Arguments and disagreements are part and parcel of the primary years. They argue, fall out and make up ad nauseam. This is the way of life in primary, sometimes this cycle happens and the adults don’t know because the tamariki have already learned the words and skills to figure this out for themselves. Sometimes we are very well aware of disagreements between children. Our job as adults is to help them through this time and give them the skills and language to be able to eventually sort issues out themselves.

There are many ways to do this.  A child may not have the language yet to talk through an issue.  When they come to me and say, “Bob said or did this to me”, I might ask a few questions such as “Why did they say or do that?” Usually, the answer is, “I don’t know.” I would then say, “Perhaps you could ask them” and carry on from there, giving them language with which to talk to the other child.  Sometimes I will sit down with ākonga who have an issue and we will talk through it, seeing how everyone feels and what could be done about it. Sometimes an older child can sit down with a couple of children and take them through the same thing.

Over the years, I have often looked across the classroom and seen an older child with a couple of younger children talking through an issue; when this happens it gladdens my heart as this is what we have been aiming for.

When there are regular issues that crop up, we may deal with these within a class meeting or devise a grace and courtesy lesson that will bring that thing up in a humorous way. What we as adults need to remember is that this is a learning curve for tamariki just as times tables or reading is something they are still learning.