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"At Poppies, the languages and symbols for a child's own and other cultures are promoted and protected."

Language is a vital part of communication. In early childhood, one of the major cultural tasks for children is to develop competence in and understanding of language. Language does not consist only of words, sentences, and stories, it includes the language of images, art, dance, drama, mathematics, movement, rhythm, and music.

During these early years, children are learning to communicate their experiences in many ways, and they are also learning to interpret the ways in which others communicate and represent experience. They are developing increasing competence in symbolic, abstract, imaginative, and creative thinking. Language grows and develops in meaningful contexts when children have a need to know and a reason to communicate. The teachers at Poppies understand and encourage both verbal and non-verbal communication styles. This strand is grounded particularly in the principle of Empowerment. Communication is vital for children to be able to contribute their strengths and interests, to find out what they want to know, and to take increasing responsibility for their own learning and care. Experiences also help to build relationships, as children develop the "give and take" of communication and learning and have opportunities to work effectively with others in ways which have an impact on their environment.

The ability to communicate increases their enjoyment and involvement with Family and Community, helping them to make sense of, and participate in, the wider cultural and social world. The Poppies environment is rich in language and literacy - signs, symbols, words, numbers, song, dance, drama, and art that take account of and extend the children's different understandings and knowledge. The teachers also monitor their own body language so that they interact appropriately with children, using expressive actions, songs, poems, and dance to enhance communication.

We have realistic expectations of children's language development and help to identify assistance if language delays are observed. Children learn through both planned and spontaneous interactions, with the assistance of teachers who are responsive, stimulate creative thinking and problem solving, and question and discuss possibilities. The teachers listen to children attentively, encourage children to initiate conversation and help develop effective interaction. So that the children develop an understanding of our cultural heritage, we include the use of the Te Reo Maori (Màori language) and Tikanga Maori (Maori culture and creative arts) in the programme. The teachers at Poppies also acknowledge, respect and incorporate the children's home language into the programme. This way all children's knowledge of other languages and cultures is enhanced. Teachers aim to promote and support the child's first language and will support the learning of English.

The Poppies children enjoy easy access to resources that enable them to express themselves creatively and help them to develop concepts of mathematics, reading, and writing. These resources include counting and number rhyme books, games that use numbers, such as cards and dominoes, equipment that relates to shape, colour, pattern and weight, and art and music materials.

The teachers at Poppies read and tell stories, provide books, and use group times to allow children to exchange and extend ideas, reinforcing developing concepts of, and language for, shape, space, size, and colour as well as imaginative responses. Children observe teachers using print and numbers for creative and meaningful activities, such as following a recipe, sorting objects, following timetables and calendars, and counting out groups. By the time children move to school, we aim for Poppies children to:

  • be confident using language skills for a range of purposes
  • have had considerable experience with books and be steadily developing secure vocabulary, grammar, and syntax
  • enjoy returning to favourite books and recognising the distinctive characteristics of book language and be ready to consolidate concepts about print, such as directionality
  • how words are made up, and the correspondence between written and spoken words
  • have had opportunities to hear and use Màori; have some awareness of other community languages
  • enjoy writing and be keen to play with language and to hear and use new language
  • have some practical concepts about numbers, counting, numerical symbols and applications of numbers, and have used mathematical understandings for everyday purposes, such as sorting, labelling, perceiving patterns and establishing "fair shares"
  • have developed a repertoire of expressive body movements for communication, especially in dance and drama.
  • have developed some techniques for expressing themselves in music, art, crafts and design
  • enjoy and experience music as an expression of mood, situation and culture
  • enjoy making music, and be developing a feeling for rhythm, singing and improvisation.