Te Aroha

A caring and positive environment

In Te Aroha we have a strong focus on developing the social and emotional capabilities of our students. We are fully aware that starting school is a big deal and for students and their parents/care-givers and we endeavor to support families to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Readiness for Formal Learning...

Students begin formal learning when they show readiness and not before. Students show a readiness for academic instruction in a number of ways and as teachers we watch very closely to ensure we see the signs. We provide them an environment where all the tools were available, where they see others getting great joy from academic tasks and where they see formal learning as a tool to meet their needs ensures the door is always open for when they need it.

Learning to read and write cannot come at the cost of their emotional and social development. Play is number 1 in our area. Being able to make connections and feel wonder at my environment needs to come first.

Our students talk more than they have ever done before, are more physically active and spend more time learning to deal with the big emotions that rock their worlds.

Why Play?

  • It changes the structure of the brain
  • It activates many parts of the brain at the same time
  • It teaches children to have positive interactions with others
  • Children who play do better at school
  • It gets kids moving

Te Aroha students are in the age of wonder. When adults are not the font of knowledge their minds open up to the wonderous world around them.

Research Supporting The Importance Of Play

The use of play in primary schools is not new thinking, in fact as far back as 1950's the New Zealand education system has advocated for the importance of play in the primary school environment.


Wallis (2017) states that "the more play you have under the age of 7, the more intelligent you will be." There is nowhere in research that shows that trying to teach a five-year-old like a seven-year-old works. A fundamental flaw is to think that a child that can do something early is an advantage if anything it is the opposite. This link is a National Radio interview on the 8th of May, 2014, where Wallis speaks about what 3 to 7-year-old children need.

Aiono and Cheer (2017) state that numerous research has defined pretend or socio-dramatic play as the most beneficial play for children. This type of play has been shown to have the strongest links to executive functioning development. This type of thinking develops flexible and abstract thinking, it also helps develop self-control. This play also allows children to build on their knowledge of what is known, as well as what could be.

Brain Development

Nathan Wallis and the Brainwave Trust explain the brain by breaking it into four parts...

Brain Stem

The brain stem controls the flow of messages between the brain and the rest of the body, and it also controls basic body functions such as breathing, swallowing, heart rate, blood pressure, consciousness, and whether one is awake or sleepy.


The cerebellum is responsible for some functions in motor control, such as the coordination, precision, and accurate timing of movements.

Limbic system

The primary structures within the limbic system include the amygdala, hippocampus, thalamus, hypothalamus, basal ganglia, and cingulate gyrus. The amygdala is the emotion centre of the brain, while the hippocampus plays an essential role in the formation of new memories about past experiences.

Frontal cortex

It is involved in higher functions such as sensory perception, generation of motor commands, spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and in humans, language.