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Flourishing Whenua, Flourishing Tamariki

March 27, 2022

Our proud tamariki have been involved in the process of growing fresh produce from start to finish, learning to prepare and sow the soil, propagate seeds, and nurture young seedlings into fully fledged plants. In recent weeks, we have been reaping the rewards of their efforts, delighting in the abundance of strawberries, tomatoes, capsciums, chilis, lettuces, and spinach that the gardens have produced over the summer.

Our kaiako (teacher) has been helping our tamariki determine which tomatoes to pick, and which tomatoes to leave until they ripen.

Why is fostering a relationship between our tamariki and the soil so important? 

Our tamariki gain so many benefits from learning to grow their own food. In fact, growing and nurturing our whenua can be seen as growing and nurturing our tamariki. Not only does gardening provide an optimal diet for development, it also fosters lifelong skills of curiosity and observation in our tamariki, teaching them to be a proud kaitiaki of the whenua. This short blog explores a few of these benefits. 

Fostering healthy diets from a young age 

Diet is foundational to our health and wellbeing at all ages. However, by the time we reach adulthood, it can be hard to break long held habits. So, how best can we support our new generation to enjoy vitality throughout their whole lifetimes? At Kiddywinkles Childcare Centre, we believe it best to go back to basics and instil in our tamariki a love of fresh food. 

To this end, our garden harvest supplements the nourishing meals prepared onsite daily by our chefs. Packed with nutrition and antioxidants, these meals support a

child’s learning and engagement. Research shows that the wide range of nutrients in a varied, seasonal diet improves health and cognition as well as gut bacteria diversity and resilience to illness and infections. In fact, placing our children in contact with the soil is perhaps the best thing we can do for their immunity. 

Supporting Kiddywinkles values of curiosity and creativity 

Healthy food is not just satisfying for the body – it’s also satisfying for the mind and spirit! Exposure to a wide range of sights, smells, tastes, and textures brings a little more curiosity and novelty into each day. Spending time in the garden also helps to nurture our tamariki’s powers of observation, increasing their awareness of the dynamic outside world. Dwelling in “green spaces” like the garden brings many documented benefits – notably, increased creativity and happiness – and our tamariki get to enjoy all of these benefits on a daily basis. Naturally, watching tiny seedlings grow into edible plants is a wonderful source of wonder and fascination!

Our tamariki inspecting the new planter boxes at Kiddywinkles Childcare Centre.

Learning to be a kaitiaki 

With the rise of technology in our fast-paced modern world, many adults have lost their ability to meaningfully connect with the whenua. Unfortunately, this has had many consequences for the environment. At Kiddywinkles Childcare Centre, we

believe connecting tamariki to their role as kaitaki of the whenua is essential. Once we realise our dependence on the whenua for food, we learn to protect and respect it. For this reason, we have also planted over 35 native species to create a safe haven for our endemic species such as the tūī, and to support the local ecosystem. 

In the garden, we are ultimately teaching values of environmental stewardship and respect through action. Fostering healthy relationships between our tamariki and the whenua is a proactive way to raise a new generation ready to care for our environment. When our environment flourishes, so too do our tamariki

Get in touch 

Need further information or want to arrange a tour of Kiddywinkles Childcare Centre? Give us a call today on 09 832 1212, email info@kiddywinkles.co.nz, check out our Facebook page, or fill out our online enquiry form. 

Ngā mihi nui maioha!