Learning Stories

Learning stories are your child’s link between home and cottage. They are stories that are written about fun, exciting and interesting activities or moments that your child has experienced. Most child care centres will write a story about each child once a month but at The Blue Cottage we aim to go the extra mile and we write a story for every 5 days they attend. So, if your child is with us for a full week, they will have a story every week. Some of these will be in depth stories linked to our philosophy or Te Whariki and some will be a photo story board.

The stories will be printed and stuck into your child’s journal book which lives at The Blue Cottage but which you are welcome to take home to share. To compliment this, the stories will also be loaded onto “Storypark”, which is a secure online journal that you own as a family. You can share this with whoever you like allowing family or friends across the world to enjoy your child’s journey as well. Not only can you add family stories as well, but we absolutely love it when you do because it strengthens the bond between home and The Blue Cottage preschool centre. This comes at no extra cost and you own your “Storypark” so when you eventually leave The Blue Cottage, you take your online journal with you to continue adding stories.

What an amazing keepsake for you and your child.

How Do We Do This?

For many of us, life is busy, complicated and stressful. Deciding where your child will attend childcare and entrusting someone else to help care for and educate your baby is a huge decision. At The Blue Cottage, we support you in this journey with an open door policy and helpful, friendly staff. We take away the stress by providing everything your child needs, so all you need to do in the morning is drop them off without having to check off a long list of jobs. It is important to know what your child is doing when you are away and that’s why we take more photos and do more stories in your child’s portfolio. This can be accessed through your secure online login or read together in their journals.

Our staff are highly respected for the amazing job that they do every day in the care, education and support they provide for the children, the families and each other. We have more staff than the ministry recommends to ensure that they have the time to engage in meaningful learning opportunities with the children. The teachers have more non-contact time so that parents receive extra learning stories and the teachers have a better work/life balance which means that they have more to give the children while they are at The Blue Cottage.  We also invest in professional development of our staff so they are also learning, evolving and are inspired and motivated to share with our childcare centre community.

Our purpose-built child care centre is licensed for 80 children and is split into over 3’s, where we also run a ‘ready for school’ programme and under 3’s which includes an integrated baby room. We have spent a lot of time and care ensuring that the environment is warm, inviting and encompasses that homely feel.  We are environmentally aware in everything we do and have used lots of upcycled furniture and resources with our touch of love added. Our outside area is always available to the children and we encourage natural exploration with all that nature has to offer. This can often get messy but results in amazing learning opportunities and luckily children are washable! As the Scandinavian saying goes ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.’ Our outside area will have very little structured apparatus and instead will allow children to design, experiment and create their own equipment using natural curiosity and everyday items such as boxes, planks and tree stumps etc.  Inside our childcare centre, we provide the children with a variety of learning rich resources which includes lots of loose parts so that children can engage in open ended play using their imagination as fuel rather than an instruction book and supported by their teachers.

It is no accident that the children are the last on this list. If children are in a preschool centre where families are supported, welcomed and stress free. Where the teachers are valued, motivated and enjoy their work. Where the environment is safe, cosy and rich in learning opportunities, then the children will feel secure, flourish and grow into active, interested learners who are constantly experimenting and exploring their world.

Our Play Areas

We wanted to re-create the feeling of home as closely as possible so it was important that the physical structure of our play area is as flexible as possible. We don’t want to have lots of rooms where children are separated by age and have less opportunities to interact with children at different stages. Rather we want to create different area’s that reflect the children’s stages of development.
A lot of time and heart has gone into personally upcycling and renovating furniture, resources and sewing soft furnishings ourselves. Loose parts play is also featured heavily where children of any age are provided with lots of objects which they can use however their imagination drives them. This can be found in each of the different areas. We have ensured that the environment enables the children to feel safe and secure so they can explore their surroundings and reach their individual potential.

Baby Room:
This is a calm and peaceful room where your baby is nurtured by our loving team and there is always someone available for a cuddle. Routine at this stage is constantly changing and communication between home and Cottage is so important as we work to recreate your home routine as closely as possible. Our team has a wealth of knowledge to help you through these changes. The room is integrated with the toddler room so while the babies can enjoy the safety of their own space, they can also interact with the toddlers and see them at work/play. The babies have their own sleep room and enjoy plenty of time outside. The ratio in this room is 1 teacher to every 3 children and your baby will move on to the toddler room when they are approximately 15 months old but this decision will be made between the family and the team as each child develops different skills at different ages. We welcome you in to continue breast feeding either in the baby room or in our family room, you can safely store and reheat expressed milk or we supply formula milk. We also provide all other food your baby requires, nappies through our nappy project and everything else your baby might need while they’re at The Blue Cottage. Please go to our “Family Information” page for more information.

‘When you hold an infant, hold him not just with your body, but with your mind and heart’ Magda Gerber.

Toddler Room:
This is traditionally a stage full of dynamic and energetic explorers and scientists who are learning about how their bodies and their actions affect their environment and others around them. As fits our whole philosophy, we put a lot of emphasis on teaching our toddlers about respect, trust and doing your best for the whole group. Here the toddlers will experience lots of one on one time with the teachers and many different group activities. The children always have access to our outside space and all the glorious and sometimes messy opportunities that that can bring. There is also a designated sleep area and a teacher to give your toddler a warm cuddle as they rouse from their slumber and prepare themselves for their afternoon adventures. The ratio in this room is 1 teacher to every 5 children plus we also have a teacher aid. We also provide all other food your toddler requires, nappies through our nappy project and everything else your toddler might need while they’re at The Blue Cottage. Please go to our “Family Information” page for more information.

‘Never help a child with a task at which he feels he can succeed’ Maria Montessori.

This is a large area giving the children lots of room to experience all of the wonderful activities and resources that the team provide. We have worked very hard to create a space that is practical but still homely so the children feel comfortable and able to get on with their busy day discovering all the new and wonderful places that their imagination will take them. The children’s day will include mat time and as they progress through their time here, they will be included in our ready for school programme. They will have access to the outside at all times other than the extremist of weather. Remember ‘There is no bad weather, only bad clothing’. The ratio in this room is 1 teacher to 8 children plus we also have a teacher aid and you can expect your child to move into this area when they are approximately 3 years old or when the child, the team and their family feel they are ready to transition. We also provide all food, and everything else your pre-schooler might need while they’re at The Blue Cottage so please go to our “Family Information” page for more information.

‘Be careful what you teach. It might interfere with what they are learning’ Magda Gerber.

Our outside play area is available to the children always except in the most extreme weather. It is so important for their physical and spiritual development that children have the opportunity to be in nature, climb trees, scrape their knees, plant flowers, listen to the birds and run around as fast as their bodies will let them. Outside play can be messy, especially if your child takes a liking to our mud kitchen but luckily children are washable plus we wash their clothes!

It was vitally important to us that the outside area is one that allows for imagination and exploration no matter what the age of the child. So rather than having play equipment that dictates to the child how it is to be used, we provide lots of equipment that the children can use to create whatever their imagination desires. A spaceship? An obstacle course? A zoo?

We also grow our own vegetables, and have a worm farm that the children love.

We are fortunate to be in a location which is so convenient for families and offers such amazing beauty on our doorstep. We enjoy views out to the Papamoa hills and we are next to the Gordon Spratt reserve and all the 50 acres of exciting opportunities that it provides. All the babies and children will be able to regularly visit this space and explore everything that it has to offer.

‘Dirty feet are the happiest’ Anon