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Community and connections

Story of practice: XO Little Rockers, Invercargill

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa

Let us keep close together, not far apart

Key points

  • Weaving the principles of Te Whāriki with playgroup philosophy
  • Team approach to everyone being welcome
  • Celebrating the culture of each family

For over 14 years XO Little Rockers playgroup has brought together families of the Invercargill community. The playgroup fosters connections in a warm and nurturing environment. It is hosted by XO Church.

Weaving in principles of Te Whāriki

Paula McIlhone, playgroup coordinator says at the playgroup they integrate Te Whāriki principles of Family and community | Whānau tangata and Relationships | Ngā hononga. These are interwoven with the strands of Belonging | Mana whenua and Wellbeing | Mana atua. This creates a caring environment where families can experience being part of a supportive community.

Paula says, “Everyone is welcome. We are all about community and all about connection. When we were in lockdown over Easter we made little gift packages to drop off to families, just letting them know we hadn’t forgotten about them.”

Volunteer team welcomes everyone

The playgroup volunteer team are parents, grandparents, and extended family members. They aim to make each family feel welcomed, embraced, and supported within the playgroup community.

Paula says, “We are here for families. For many we are like extended family. They appreciate the connection with the nannas. We become the aunties to their kids.”

The word welcome in different languages.

Celebrating the culture of each family

Through a diverse range of play experiences, the playgroup creates a space where tamariki of all ages can learn and explore. Every session has music and movement activities such as nursery rhymes, instrument playing, waiata, and lively songs to encourage everyone to join in.

Its inclusive philosophy values and respects everyone, celebrating the unique contributions of each family and their cultural backgrounds. Through celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and Matariki, families are learning more about Aotearoa. Special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are celebrated. This allows families to explore and appreciate the richness of their own and other cultures.

Action points

Think about the following questions:

  • How does your playgroup foster connections and a sense of belonging for families?
  • How do you ensure each family feels welcomed and supported?
  • How do you celebrate the unique contributions of each family and their cultural background?

Further reading

The Education Hub: Principle of Family and Community | Whānau Tangata

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