Why did I want to establish AELC?

Victoria Howard

Because I have a passion for ensuring that all children have access to quality early childhood experiences.

I began my career in education as a kindergarten teacher in 1979. In the intervening years, I have parented 4 children and been involved in playcentre, family day care (Barnardos), kindergarten; and I ran a sessional centre in Mt Eden in the late 80’s, for a number of years.

As my children grew older I furthered my qualifications and have taught the certificate, diploma and degree of ECE for the last 14 years. I completed a Bachelor of Arts and the Postgraduate Diploma in Early Years Education. As a lecturer I have visited students on teaching practice throughout the North Island. I see some wonderful EC centres; unfortunately I also see quite a few where children’s learning experiences are restricted due to their environment, poor resourcing and unqualified teachers.

Since I began teaching kindergarten at the age of 20, I had the desire to have my own preschool. It was not until my children were grown that I had the resources, time and knowledge needed to devote to such an all consuming project, However after nearly 30 years in the early childhood sector, I felt confident to embark on this wonderful journey. Initially my husband Tim Howard (co-owner/director) and I looked to buy an established centre but none were what we wanted them to be, so we looked at establishing one. After years of searching we finally bought the 5 acre block in 2007 to establish Aubrey ELC. We opened in March 2008 initially for 10 children while resource consent was sought to increase the roll. Our aim was to provide a range of learning experiences both indoors and out. A rural block was sought to ensure the children would experience a range of activities in an expansive natural environment, including interactions with animals. We established to cater for the Stillwater and Silverdale community. While most of our children are from Stillwater/Silverdale, we also have children attending from Dairy Flat, Orewa, Whangaparaoa peninsula and the wider Hibiscus Coast. We have had many families with us since we started, with sibling attending, cousinss and even nieces and nephews.

We are now established as a small family friendly centre where children know all the teachers and each other; where parents feel comfortable staying for a chat. So even though we have a lot of space available we have decided to keep the centre at the current licence of 50(including up to 15 under 2's) to ensure this atmosphere is not lost.

The programme approach is based on the kindergarten ‘learn through play’ philosophy, strongly influenced by Reggio Emilia ideology respecting the child as a confident and competent learner.

Tim and I both work at the centre in various roles. The centre manager Linda Locker is a foundation staff member (2008).


It is all about the children...

1. Our outcomes for Aubrey children. For independent children who demonstrate self help skills. We view the environment as the third teacher and our children are active learners. We value turn taking, sharing, self esteem and positive relationships with each other and their teachers.

2. How we challenge and extend children. We cater for the children's interests, with a child initiated programme. Teachers provoke children with ideas and a stimulating environment.

3. Seeking aspirations and contributions from parents/whanau. Is achieved via parent feedback forms and email communication. We foster day to day, face to face communication with parents. Each child's learning journey is documented in the centre's web based Infocare Parent Portal.

4. Assessment, planning and evaluation supports children's learning. Firstly by learning stories based on observations of the child. Teachers talk to children and their parents to learn about children's needs and interests. We use this information in our programme planning. Children expressing an interest or curiousity, is valued in the emergent curriculum and to a large degree informs our programme planning. Provocation is also a planning tool - for example teachers presenting ideas and/or resources to engage children, which may lead them into a topic of interest for further planning and development.

5. Our curriculum promotes desired outcomes. Aubrey children are settled and happy, and their individual needs are met. From the feedback we have received, parents are happy with the centre and the outcomes their children have achieved. We often get feedback after children have started school as to how well their child has transitioned and is achieving in their new learning environment.