New Entrant Parent Information

Further to our own transition to school programme, the information below should help to answer many of the questions you may have about school.
First steps – before your child starts
Have a play at the school in the weekend – walk around, explore the playgrounds, look through the windows and get familiar – things that become familiar are not scary.
Have a chat with the teacher.
When teachers know children well they can support them better. It is always helpful to know special health needs and also what your child enjoys doing, what they are good at and what makes them happy.
If you child has special learning needs they often get identified in that first year of school. If you have any early concerns it is great to chat to the teacher.
It is lovely to share your child’s portfolio from kindy. A great snapshot to what your child has already learned and great to extend the relationship from kindy to school.
Teacher tips
Before your child starts school, it is great if they can:
• Do up their shoes
• Put on and take off their coats and jumpers
• Go to the toilet and wash their hands
• Unpack and hang up their bags where they are told
• Open and close their lunchbox by themselves and eat independently
Parent tips
Your child will find it easier if you can teach them to:
• Sit on a chair at a table for 5-10 minutes to complete an activity
• Become comfortable being away from you
• Know how to take turns and wait for things
• Know the letters of the alphabet
• Know the numbers 1 to 9
• Write their name
School bag
Make sure your child’s school bag is big enough to fit a lunchbox, book bag, library books, warm jumper, but small enough so your little person can still wear and carry the bag by themselves. Remember the whole goal of that first year is independence.
In your child’s school bag ensure you have their lunch and a water bottle.
Suggest to eat 1 or 2 things from their lunchbox for morning tea and the rest for lunch.
Note: The children feed themselves at lunchtime. We do not allow you to come in and feed your child or bring in a hot meal for them. Encouraging independence is a big part of the first year of being at school.
Other things that might go in the school bag…
• Sunhat in Terms 1 and 4. (It is compulsory to wear a hat outside in all New Zealand schools during our warmer months).
• It is a good idea to put in a change of clothes in case of toileting accidents in that first year.
Naming clothing
PLEASE name all your child’s clothing, shoes and items. It is so easy for items to get misplaced and nearly impossible to return if not named.
Put sunblock on before your child goes to school in Terms 1 and 4. You child will also need to wear a hat every time they go outside in Terms 1 and 4. The New Zealand sun is very harsh and if you do not apply sunblock your child’s skin will burn in our harsh climate.
Mornings before school
Teacher tip
Give yourself plenty of time to get ready so you don’t all feel rushed and stressed. Some children get upset walking in late.
Arriving at school
• Go into the classroom and say hello
• Please tell the teacher about after school arrangements if you won’t be the person picking up your child
• Ask your child if they need to go to the toilet
• Chat with the other children together
• Make goodbyes short – teachers have lots of experience helping children to settle in and managing an upset child.
Timing (check with your individual school – this is a general timetable)
Class starts at 8.50 am.
Morning Tea is from 10.30am – 10.50am. During this time encourage your child to eat a healthy snack (1 or 2 things from their lunchbox), and have a drink.
Lunch is from 12.30pm – 1.30pm. Duty teachers check that children have eaten all their lunch so please try not to overfill their lunch box. Please let the teacher know if your child is not eating their lunch or coming home with a full drink bottle.
The school day finishes at 3pm. Before this time the children will work together to tidy the classroom, collect their belongings and say goodbye to each other. Please wait in the junior courtyard so that your child can see you when it’s time to leave. We do not let a child go until we have made eye contact with the parent or caregiver and if you are running late, please let the office know.
After school
Expect your child to be very tired in the first few weeks. Go home and just relax.
We suggest, instead of asking ‘how was your day?”, asking more specific questions can be helpful such as, “What did you write about today?” Letting them adjust to being at home before asking about school is helpful and even waiting until you are doing something else such as clearing up after afternoon tea can be a better way to casually chat about the day.
It is a good idea to not schedule in lots of afternoon activities – let your child get use to the routine of school first.
Your child will be hungry – a nice big healthy afternoon tea and water will be well received.
Schools are very busy places – being organised will really help you feel more settled. This new chapter will bring endless permission slips, parent help requests, newsletters, notices, homework forms, and so much more into your house. Using the school website to stay on top of dates is a great idea. There is a calendar on the home page.
2 o’clock pick ups (check this policy with your school)
For the first two weeks we suggest the children be picked up at 2 o’clock. We know many of the children have been in kindergarten for longer days, however school is very different and the children get very tired. Picking them up a little bit earlier at first, helps set them up for success and makes the transition to school more happy and manageable for them.
At School (may vary between schools)
Mat tips
Children sit on the mat at school for short bursts. It is a great advantage if they can sit for at least 10 minutes. Children are taught quickly that if they need to say something on the mat they need to put up their hand.
Children are encouraged to share news from home during sharing time. We get them to focus on talking clearly, making eye contact and answering questions. It is also the time we talk about being a good audience by listening and making eye contact back. Being thoughtful and respectful to others is promoted at this time.
For more specific information please visit the Education New Zealand website
Writing programmes initially aim to develop children’s ability to draw a picture, think of a sentence and record some of the sounds they can hear in words. Once they are able to do this independently, children then begin to develop specific elements of their writing depending on their needs. There is a daily handwriting programme as it is such an advantage when children learn correct letter formation early on and start with good habits.
Maths programmes begin with a whole class number warm-up, such as counting forwards and backwards. Then small groups of similar ability children, whilst the other children work on independent group activities that support their maths learning.
The New Zealand Curriculum
This website is great for highlighting our priorities for your child’s learning during their first year at school.
How to help at home
Schools need to work in partnership with families to support children to learn. Always talk to them for ideas but we suggest you look at this website.
Schools are busy places so keep an eye on what is going on, what is coming up and important dates on the school website calendar and reading the newsletters.
School is a wonderful new chapter in your child’s life.

Read more

Investigating Taniwha together through story, drawing and clay.

Over the term the children, Jenn and Maggie have been investigating Taniwha. We began (purposefully) without any visual influences.
Taniwha are legendary Maori guardians. Being a legend there are not photos, only artistic impressions. We wanted the children to come up with their own creative ideas on what Taniwha look like, without being influenced by artistic ideas.

In the first week of investigation, Jenn blanked out the picture from a children’s book ‘Taniwha’ by Robyn Kahukiwa and read it to the children. Incorporating our current focus on collaboration, Jenn asked the children to work together to create their pictures, thinking that they could bounce ideas off each other to create their pictures. They came up with some amazing pieces of drawing from their past experiences. Children seemed to add features of their favorite characters into their Taniwha creations. For example, some children portrayed their Taniwha as a princess while some thought it was like a multi-head monster; Some children added features such as arms, legs and tummy similar to humans, while others drew wings and tails on their Taniwha. Some children created their Taniwha with family.

On Thursday, Jenn read and acted out the Taniwha story (Wellington) and children were given coloured felt pens. We suggested, in pairs, they make and add stories to their drawings. The children came up with amazing ideas. Some were ideas they revisited from last week and others were new ideas the children brought in. Through the stories the children created, more details could be seen in the drawings. Ideas included lots of eyes, crowns, and wings. This time, children seemed to really enjoy this drawing experience. George and Jesse’s story comprised a series of drawings.

This week, we worked together to act out the story ‘the Taniwha of Wellington Harbour’. Afterwards we started a discussion sharing the children’s own ideas about their Taniwha. To incorporate the collaboration focus into the Taniwha creation, Maggie suggested the children draw a Taniwha together as a big group.
Maddy drew a Taniwha head with a crown on; Eira drew ten eyes with a nose on Taniwha’s face; Almog thought the Taniwha had a body like a T-rex; Jethrin added two arms on the Taniwha; Suri said the Taniwha had three legs and she added a bottom to the Taniwha; Luc believed that the Taniwha had two wings and a lot of legs.
Then the teachers joined in with the creation. Jenn drew a lake. Eira was inspired by Jenn’s idea and continued drawing a rainbow lake with coloured felt pens. Wilson (Student) added a long tongue and Vicky (Student) added some scales. Maggie put a tail on top of Suri’s Taniwha bottom.picture2

We introduced a new Taniwha story called Awarua the flying Taniwha. This time, Maggie set up a big and long piece of paper for children to draw their own Taniwha with black vivid pens. Children knelt down together around the paper and worked attentively on their own Taniwha on the mural. They spent a long time with lots of detail on their pictures. Some of the children connected their two Taniwha. It even inspired Jethrin’s mum to join us and create her own Taniwha. Teachers also joined in and created Taniwha too.

On Thursday, Jenn read Awarua the flying Taniwha again. We began a discussion about the investigation of Taniwha so far. We decided to continue to explore more about Taniwha with different media through art. Jenn planned to use black vivid pen with the children and add paint the following week. She provided each child with a black vivid pen and a piece of paper to draw their own Taniwha. Some of the children decided to draw their picture in pairs.

After a few weeks exploring Taniwha through drawing individually and in groups, the children have developed Taniwha images with more detail. We moved on to investigate with the children Taniwha habitats and how could we construct it with natural resources? In order to inspire children’s thoughts about Taniwha habitats, we decided to take the children for an excursion to the park near kindy. We would collect some natural materials to build a Taniwha habitat and display it at kindy. We hoped that this would inspire other children, including the morning children’s curiosity and interest in Taniwha.picture4

In order to explore more about Taniwha habitat, children in the Monday group used black vivid pens to express their ideas about their Taniwha habitat on paper. Children came up with a lot of ideas in their drawings. In their pictures, we saw a lot of detail from the inside and the outside environments, what Taniwha eat, how he/she lives. Children’s imagination and creativity seemed to be more and more sophisticated.
As we had planned, after drawing their individual Taniwha habitat, children were introduced to a new medium, clay. In the past couple of weeks, clay and natural resources such as leaves, sticks and rocks have been put on the table in the morning session for children to explore and manipulate. With a simple explanation about the medium, children sat at the table and started to explore it and use the clay and the natural resources provided to make their Taniwha habitats. Most of the children stood the sticks and leaves on a big piece of clay to represent their idea of trees.picture1

Time for our second mural. The children gathered around a big piece of paper and created their Taniwha habitat in a big group. The children really extended their ideas and incorporated the ideas from their friends into their pictures.

It was amazing to watch the growth and development over the last term of the children’s perception of Taniwha.
If you look at the pictures from the beginning to the end you really see the children’s fine motor skills and thinking developing. Their working theories about Taniwha have extended over the term. The children started off talking about, for example, eyes, mouths and princesses and by the end they really developed their ideas in collaboration with their friends.


Collaboration –
Speaking and listening skills
Sharing ideas as well as space and resources
Respecting and considering other people’s ideas and thoughts
Inspiring and learning from each other

Communication –
Extending children’s vocabulary
Developing children’s speaking and listening skills
Increasing children’s understanding and competence in symbolic, abstract, imaginative and creative thinking
Exploring verbal and non-verbal communication through storytelling and arts
Gaining understanding that symbols can be read and used to express and represent ideas and thoughts
Developing skills and confidence with art and craft processes such as drawing, painting and clay
Developing pre-literacy through taking interest in books and stories, storytelling and listening myths and legends

Fine motor skills –
Strengthen children’s fingers through drawing, painting and clay
Practicing pencil grip and getting ready for school
Practicing writing children’s names
Developing hand-eye coordination

Creativity –
Extending each other’s ideas through discussion
Using visual presentation to support expression and communication
Exploring and being familiar and confident with different medium

Problem solving and Risk taking
Developing children’s working theories

Read more

Resilient Children – Our Head Teacher is interviewed on TVNZ Breakfast 26 January 2017

Why is resilience important in kindergarten?
Developing resilience in children under 5 years of age is integral to the work we do at Uplands Kindergarten. The teaching team is inspired by the work of Guy Claxton, Carol Dweck and Ken Robinson and the language we use at Uplands builds the skills necessary to develop this life skill.

Children need to hear and believe their abilities are not preset or fixed, that they can work their brain (like they would their body if in the gym) and expand their learning capacity. In a kind, enthusiastic and celebratory tone, these are some of the things you will hear at Uplands and things to try at home:
“I can see you are thinking”
“I can see you are concentrating”
“That was tricky!”
“I could see you trying”
“I wonder who we could ask to find out?”
“You’re a learning detective!”
“What a great idea”
“Try again, give it another go”
“Isn’t it fun when it’s tricky?”
“We are all learners, can you teach me?”
“Remember when you couldn’t do….You practiced and now you can! With more practice you will be able to do this too”
“What do you need to do that?”
“How did you solve the problem?”
“Those are interesting questions – let’s find out”

Sometimes learning something new is hard. Describing to children feelings of apprehension, frustration, confusion, worrying about making a mistake, gives them words to describe their feelings. Making a mistake is not the worst thing that can happen at Uplands Kindergarten. Take a chance and don’t be frightened of being wrong.
“What would make this easier for you?”
“How did you do it last time?”
“What else did you try?”
“Learning something new is tricky”
‘Yet’ is a word we always use. When children say “I’m not good at that yet”, we know they have faith in their ability over time. Through effort and difficulty, children take on new meanings and learning which extends the connections in their brain as opposed to crumbling if they make a mistake or things don’t go their own way.
Every word and action we use sends a message to the child, telling them how to think about themselves. We focus on the process they used, the strategies, effort and choices they made.

Read more

Smooth Transitions: Moving from Kindergarten to School

Thinking about the transition from Kindergarten to Primary School can evoke an array of emotions in children and parents. These emotions can vary from excitement to apprehension and many in between! We know that having an effective transition is critical for children’s confidence, resilience and ongoing success at school.

So what can we do to make this a positive experience? Recently, one of our teachers attended a workshop on this very important topic. The teachers were inspired to think about practical things we could do for our next group of school starters. Here’s what we’ve done so far…

The Explorers:

We have a group of three Uplands graduands who will be starting school soon. To build up their familiarity and confidence in the school environment the teachers organised a special trip for the group to go and be “explorers” at their school. We set off, camera’s in hand, for the children to take photographs of their school.


The children enjoyed noticing the similarities between Uplands and school, “That’s like our digger at kindy.”


Back at Kindy the children published a book about their school. Choosing their photos and typing the words.

IMG_5809 rev 2

Finally, the children shared their story at mat time.

IMG_5980 rev 2


Top Tips for supporting your Child’s Transition to School:

  • Take your child to visit their school on the weekend to play on the playground.
  • Find out about school visits that are run by school in the lead up to their transition.
  • Listen for opportunities from your child to talk or ask any questions they may have about school.
  • Connect with children and family’s that are transitioning to the same school.
  • Chat to the teachers at Uplands for more ideas tailored to your child.



Read more

Uplands Kindergarten Police Force

Nicola June 16 2015 024

Nicola June 24 2015 016

Recently a team of ‘police officers’ have been patrolling the playground here at Uplands. Our costumes have inspired the play and the children have been adding more resources like walkie talkies, phones, traffic signs and office stationary to add authenticity to their play.

While the interest in police role play has continued for a few weeks’ now the children’s focus has been around chasing and imprisoning baddies. The teachers recognised potential to introduce new knowledge about the role of police officers…


Tash (teacher) called a meeting with all the police officers and told a story about a police officer helping a lost child. Tash drew characters to help illustrate the plot. The children were enthusiastic about going outside to role play the story.

Since then the children have also learnt about custom dogs and officers at the airport and this has been incorporated into play. Pictured below are police dogs sniffing for fruit in a passenger’s luggage.


Come in and see the continuation of this story on our planning board!

Read more