Thoughtful Tamariki: A Growing Sense of Care & Responsibility

At Buckle My Shoe, an important part of our centre philosophy is to create a home away from home feel. Part of this includes having children of all ages co-learning side by side (at appropriate times of course!); just as you would at home with siblings or with extended family.


Recently, we have noticed a growing sense of responsibility and care - in particular between our 4 year olds and infants. In the morning when some of our 4 year old tamariki arrive, the first thing they do is check to see which infants are already at the centre and ensure that they have everything they need to be happy.

Sitting close by to hand them different toys or to sing songs, the focus has moved from “what do I need” to “what does the baby need”.  This is pretty huge for a 4 year old, as it is not always easy (even as adults sometimes) to think about the needs of others before our own. So to learn and demonstrate this so early on in life is definitely something to celebrate. 😊


This concept that we are seeing at the centre also links to a traditional part of Maori culture labelled “tuakana-teina relationships” - “tuakana” meaning older and “teina” meaning younger – the relationship is one of reciprocal learning pathways.

In the examples we are seeing in our learning spaces, the older child is role modeling things such as verbal language and different skills and abilities to the younger child. Through interactions with the younger child, the older child has the opportunity to develop the qualities of care, gentleness, patience & leadership. 


We have also seen our 2 to 3 year old tamariki taking their learning & experiences with our infants into their pretend play with the baby dolls at the centre. In the pictures above you can see one of our little ones showing care and responsibility for her baby doll, by creating a comfortable environment for her baby to sleep in. Another one of our little learners has chosen to set up his baby in a high chair and offer him some food & milk as part of a mealtime routine. In the outdoor environment, we have set up a baby bathing provocation and observed as some of our children demonstrated the skills needed to bathe a real baby.


A big part of our teaching practice involves seeing each child as an individual and being responsive to their needs and home routines – especially for our infants. The intimate size of our environment means that our preschoolers can get involved in helping care for our little ones, alongside their teachers. For some of our tamariki, they are the youngest child if not the only child in their whanau, so this opportunity is one that they haven’t experienced before – the role of an older sibling.


 One example of this is in the video, where we can see one of our wonderful preschoolers lovingly playing with a younger child on the swing. If you listen carefully, you can hear her using words such as “wriggly and precious” to describe this lovely moment with her young friend.


Life is all about forming, nurturing and growing relationships at all levels and what we are seeing and supporting in the centre is a great starting point for our little learners to build on. 😊