Eagleby childcare centre connecting children with Māori culture

4 Mar 2019 9:49 AMLicensee Person
Eagleby childcare centre connecting children with Māori culture

The children in the Kōhanga at The Mulberry Bush Early Learning Academy in Eagleby love Te Kōhanga Ēkara, the bi-lingual Māori program that connects Māori children with their heritage and teaches acceptance and awareness to children of all backgrounds.

With a growing number of New Zealand families in the community, the staff at The Mulberry Bush saw a need for early education that encouraged and promoted diversity.

Laura teamed up with her Centre Director Jenna Wolland to develop and implement Te Kōhanga Ēkara by translating the Early Years Learning Framework into Te Reo Māori or the Māori language.  

“The way it came about was that we needed to differentiate ourselves from other programs in the area, and we found there was a real need in the community for a program like this,” Laura said.

Bringing Māori language and philosophy to the children at The Mulberry Bush Early Learning Academy has been enormously successful, with children of New Zealand and Māori backgrounds developing a strong sense of belonging and identity. Te Kōhanga Ēkara provides an instant connection for these children, and they settle into the program quickly as a result.

The Mulberry Bush team believe in promoting inclusion, acceptance and understanding amongst children and families of all cultures and backgrounds. Children are taught to accept and celebrate cultural differences from an early age which leads them to embrace cultural diversity and become confident and involved learners.

Te Kōhanga Ēkara has the additional benefit of allowing young children to become comfortable with hearing and speaking many Māori words. Learning foreign language at a young age improves cognition, language development, social skills and confidence. With these benefits in mind, it’s no surprise that Laura Couper has found the program to have a very positive effect on school readiness.

“We’ve had feedback from the local school, who told us that the children coming through our program were very well prepared for school compared to many others,” said Laura.

The Mulberry Bush Early Learning Academy is working to promote knowledge and understanding of other cultures in the next generations, creating a strong community of diverse families and children and is proud of their goal to provide an early childhood education environment that is “the next best thing to home.”