Gems Educational Childcare was whispered to me many times when I started looking for the next bit in my wee one’s journey for Childcare in Queenstown.
When I started looking I did what most people do and asked my mates. I also “ummmed” and “aaarrred” about the seemingly complicated process of what they offer (it’s not difficult at all) and location dependant.
Wren was nearly ten months old, I wanted somewhere I could leave her and feel absolutely ensured that she was happy (happy baby= happy parental) and somewhere where their values and ways of working sat well with mine: *cue stage left* Gems Educational Childcare.
She also loves food. Alot. So could they offer her food at the same rate I could (to be honest I couldn’t keep up)? The first thing Gems Educational Childcare staff and my partner and I bonded over was their love of good food and full bellies.
I had a few māmā friends who I trusted and the same name kept popping up “Gems”.
Jane : “I want somewhere where they have a primary caregiver”
Jane: “I want somewhere where play is the singularly most important thing in a child’s world”
Jane: “I want her to be encouraged to think for herself. To work it out for herself. To be guided and supported and kind”
Exasperated friend: “Jane just bloody ring up Gems would you”.
Gemma and Mike (owners) have based the kaupapa of Gems Educational Childcare philosophies (opened in 2012) on that of Pikler and Reggio who individually and collectively believe that kindness between adults and children is pivotel in development.
Pikler states that “Through tender care moments, a naturally paced motor development, free movement and uninterrupted play”
Dr. Emmi Pikler’s 4 principles of Curriculum
- The value of self-initiated activity of children from their earliest age
- The value of building a trusting relationship with a consistent professional caregiver whose attitudes are directed by respect for the child’s personality and understanding of his needs.
- The value of sustaining each child in building self-awareness. This is done through encouraging active participation in whatever is going on – alone or in interaction – rather than simply perceiving the child as an object to be cleaned and fed.
- The value of fostering optimal health in the children, reciprocally influenced by the first three points. (Taken from The Pikler Collection)
Reggio Emilia Philosophy
“The program is based on the principles of respect, responsibility, and community through exploration and discovery in a supportive and enriching environment based on the interests of the children through a self-guided curriculum.
- Children must have some control over the direction of their learning;
- Children must be able to learn through experiences of touching, moving, listening, seeing and hearing;
- Children have a relationship with other children and with material items in the world that children must be allowed to explore and
- Children must have endless ways and opportunities to express themselves.
(Taken from Wikipedia)
Wren started Gems at 10 months and went into ‘The Nest’ at Rātā where it literally was like a beautiful cocoon of play, eating and friends (I wanted to stay there all day myself). She had a primary caregiver, who made sure we were informed of all the developments and updates. There’s also an epic system of educa (online system) where photos, stories and developments are uploaded by her primary caregiver to keep not only us informed but grandparents/ friends/ family who might be far away. So it feels like they’re here and still in the loop.
At two she headed into ‘The Hive’ where she now has more friends and is mobile! So many things to discover, climb on, run to and laugh at. Again a primary caregiver, Rachel, who we can connect with and discuss anything we have going on (or Wren is struggling with- icecream for breakfast?).
We also loved the fact that we didn’t have to make lunch boxes (and am dreading for school days and one of the reasons I chose Rātā: food provided).
Fresh, homemade produce with all considerations for allergies taken on board. We flick between lowering the dairy (for her skin) and allowing it and every request is acceptable and encouraged.
‘Transitioning’ over to the next room (aged 2-5/6) was slow and at Wren’s pace. Allowing for back and forth between the two rooms gave her a sense of control and a lovely feeling of discovering a new world. She then eventually stopped asking to go into ‘The Nest’ as she was ready to be in ‘The Hive’ every morning. And off she went.
Making your choice is all about what works for you! Food, location, timings, affordability and connectedness.
I am also very very excited for the stage of Farm school/ Nature Play when she is 4 and I will be exploring in the next blog!
Three locations :
The Shotover Country one
3 months to 6 years
Mon-Fri 8am- 4.30pm
Food and farm school (aged 4) offered
The lower Lakes Hayes Estate One
2 years to 6 years
Mon- Fri 8.30am-3.30pm
Bring your own food
Optional Nature play
The ‘up top’ Lakes Hayes Estate one (Queenstown Country Club)
3 months to 6 years
Mon-Fri 7.30am- 5.30pm
Food and farm school offered
I wanted to feel safe and confident in a childcare that supported my values and muddlings. My tear stained face in a morning when it was too hard to get out the door, Wren’s insistence to wear her pyjamas for the day and real life happenings. Lockdown was manageable because Gem’s went the absolute extra mile and sent out book time, puzzles, messages of solidarity and love straight from the beating heart of the centres.
I absolutely have welcomed Gems into my whanau and me into theirs. It’s palpable, real and so so wonderful. I now just have to see if they’ll let my wee one stay there til she’s 20…..
I think they’ll agree.
Gems Educational Childcare
Three Centres- Kōwhai, Miro, Rātā
All images supplied by Gems Educational Childcare
I have written this blog post in collaboration with Gems Educational Childcare but if I didn’t think you’d like it I wouldn’t work with them. But I did and they’re ace.