Aubrey Orne-Adams ’14, Mansfield Foundation International Fellow in Education
This week I have started in the classroom I will be based in for the rest of the term. This is a class full of lively 5 year-olds, most of whom have been in school for quite some time. It has been so amazing getting to see the different teaching strategies and curriculum at this stage of a child’s education. One of the most notable differences between American Kindergarten and Kiwi Year Zero is the PMP program. PMP, which stands for Perceptual Motor Program. This program gives students in the lower grades the chance to improve their balance, fine motor, and hand/eye coordination skills, all of which are essential in learning to write and developing problem solving skills. The students spend about 45 minutes a day three days a week, doing various PMP obstacle courses using jumping, throwing, tumbling, and core strength activities. It has been wonderful to see students having tons of fun while developing skills that help them succeed in the classroom. Another difference I noticed is the involvement of Maori culture into the schools. The children sing a good morning song in Maori and the language is incorporated into lessons throughout the day. I love that the I am learning some Maori from the curriculum as well as directly from the children.
On Friday I was allowed to tag along for Waterwise, which is a weekly trip to the beach that all Year 5 and 6 students go on. It was a gorgeous sunny day as I helped chaperon all the children on the short walk to the beach. Once there I judged a sand castle competition and helped outfit many of the students in life-jackets. Other students were doing sketches of the beach, creating sculptures of sun safety, and swimming. The highlight of my day was learning to kayak. I felt very proud that I kayaked back and forth for an hour and didn’t even tip over! I still can’t believe how close I am living to the ocean right now. It feels unreal!