Philosophical Statement

The Awhina philosophy is based on the indications of Rudolf Steiner (1861- 1925) the Austrian philosopher, scientist and educator. His spiritual, scientific research is known as anthroposophy. This simply stated means, ‘wisdom of the human being.’

According to Rudolf Steiner, the human being is a threefold being of body, soul and spirit, whose capacities unfold in three developmental stages on the path to adulthood: early childhood, middle childhood and adolescence.

Education, from a Steiner perspective, began in the kindergarten for children of four years and older. It is only over the last 12 years that the need for care of the very young child (in an out of home environment), has been acknowledged and developed, Awhina being the first such centre in New Zealand.

At Awhina we endeavour to provide an environment as close to an ‘archetypal’ home as possible. We approach our work with the young child very much ‘in the mode’ of the mother where the child experiences the attitude of empathetic caring vital for the healthy emotional development.
Homemaking and the role of the homemaker and all that this embraces are pivotal in our daily work with and around the children in our care.

Small children, unprotected, are at the mercy of their immediate environment. Their whole body acts as a single sensory organ, unconsciously uniting external impressions with the internal world of the child.
The child’s body also acts as a sensory organ for the ‘individual’, the soul and spiritual being.

The interaction of external impressions with the child’s internal organ development is revealed in the wonderful power of imitation with which every healthy child is born.
Every perception is first deeply assimilated, then grasped with the ‘will’ and reflected back to the outside in echo-like activity.

As caring role-models and educators we need to be concerned with two important considerations.
The first concern lies with the protection of the young child and the sense impressions that surround her/him. The second consideration is that of guiding the child gently into life . . . by allowing the child to learn . . . from life for life.
Hence the importance of surrounding the child with caregivers worthy of imitation.

In the Awhina environment, young children are given the opportunity to develop at their own pace and learn through imitation of the adults surrounding and caring for them. Good role-models, encourage impulses in children, through their very gesture, through their very doing.
 

 

Children model their behaviour on the examples they see around them.At Awhina we work with the family group, that is mixed ages of children.In this way children have the opportunity to learn ‘social’ interactions with peers as well as older and younger children.
We believe that it is more supportive for young children to be in smaller than larger groups of children. Therefore we have created the possibility for a number of ‘play’ spaces where the  child may ‘be’ and where they can play and interact in their own way and at their own pace according to their age.
The majority of children come together only at circle time (or puppet play), meal times and in the garden.
Rhythm is integral to our philosophy and essential in the care and support of the young child.
The daily rhythms of meals, play, toilet, rest, etc and procedures connected with these activities on the one hand, as well as procedures connected to ‘care’ activities such as nappy changing, sleep rhythms etc, are expanded upon on a weekly, seasonal and ultimately yearly cycle.A breathing rhythm provides the child with a sense of belonging, a sense of security, as well as sense of time and space. This in turn allows the child to ‘venture’ out and to interact with the environment in a meaningful way which warmly supports the child’s development now and in the future.Singing and movement support the child on her developing journey. During the morning children and caregivers may come together (in independent smaller groups) in song and in movement. The song of the human voice touches the child’s soul in a way that recorded music does not.
This is a time for well-loved nursery rhymes, seasonal songs and verses, circle games, finger games and dotted through the year our puppet plays.Speech and language development arise in the earliest stages out of the child’s movement, the gesture of the adult and an environment where the child experiences clear, accurate and rich language between adults on the one hand and children on the other.
        
Nutrition. Meal times are social times. Food is prepared with and around the children, with love and with care. This in turn supports healthy eating habits, as well as healthy digestion and organ development.
We endeavour to use produce which has been grown bio-dynamically or organically.
The early years of growth and development in the young child are so vitally important in that they lay the foundation for the child’s future and we believe that only he best available is suitable.The garden and immediate environment are cared for and maintained by the co-workers with and around the children. The Biodynamic preparations are applied to the garden and compost throughout the year.The garden provides the young child with a host of opportunities for learning and development and support of the senses. It provides challenges for young children in their physical development. It provides a wealth of sense impressions, delighting the sense of smell . . . the child’s first meeting with the outer environment.The garden also provides some of our daily foods such as herbs and vegetables, oranges, mandarins and lemons, feijoas and apricots as well as quinces and crab apples for jelly making, olives for preserving and figs.The chicken family are integral to our garden. Their caring and maintenance, the collecting of the eggs daily and the rearing of the chickens each spring are just part of the rich outdoor experience created for the children.The caring of the environment allows the children to experience an holistic nurturing, of ‘mana Atua’ which permeates and surrounds ‘all’ that happens with and for the children in our care.
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