Kristin School opens Little Doves Early Learning Centre
A quest to combine state-of-the-art architecture and a nurturing, homely environment for young children has driven the design of the brand new early childhood centre at Kristin School, Little Doves Early Learning Centre.
The new centre has now been officially opened after many years of planning and construction, focussed on offering children and their families a place of high-tech contemporary design and old-fashioned natural play spaces.
As Centre Manager Sarah Jones explains, Little Doves is a continuation of Kristin School’s commitment to recognising and nurturing each individual child to reach their potential.
“We know from brain research that the first three years of a child’s life are crucial. The experiences and interactions that occur in these early days have a powerful influence in shaping the brain and laying down the foundations for the rest of a child’s life,” she says. “Our first priority is to ensure that each child feels safe, loved and cared for, because we know that this is vital to enable children to explore, learn and thrive."
Little Doves Early Learning Centre welcomes children from the age of 6 months to 4 years, at which time children transition to the well-established Kindergarten at Kristin. The Kindergarten aims to continue to feed children’s natural curiosity, nurture a love of learning
and prepare them for success at school. Little Doves Early Learning Centre consists of three separate spaces, for various age
groups, each of them looking out over expansive landscaped gardens which provide a natural wonderland for young children. The scale is impressive too, with at least 20 square metres of outside space for each and every child - over four times the government minimum
“We are so excited at the sheer size and scope of the gardens”, says Ms Jones, “because it offers so many different opportunities and experiences to children. We are nestled among mature trees, with our own mini orchard and even a little stream that runs through to the
sandpit. There are cubby houses to play shop in, a tunnel and wooden tractors to climb, large grass lawns to play on, and plenty of space to explore and enjoy.”
The building was opened with a dawn blessing followed by an official opening on 16 May, which provided an opportunity to bring together the teams of people who had been involved in the building project along with the Kristin School community, including some of the
children and families who will soon be making Little Doves their own.
“At every stage of this project, there has been constant attention paid to every detail of the design to ensure that we have created the best possible environment in which children can grow, explore and learn, and get the best possible start in life,” says Ms Jones.
The team behind the design of Little Doves were architect Phil Smith from Collingridge and Smith Architects (UK) and Mark Read – senior designer at Natural Habitats. The pair have collaborated on numerous early childhood centres and aim to create a unique experience for
children, teachers and parents with every design, says Mr Smith.
“It has to be the children. Everything we do is around providing a level of care and comfort for them, but at the same time make it fun and interesting and the duality between the two is not always easy,” explains Smith. “The Little Doves theme is effectively a Secret Garden. And the building has been designed around four courtyard gardens. Each one has its own function.”
“The landscape design is about a journey around New Zealand, it’s a road trip and all the playground elements are woven into that story” says Mr Read. “On their journey they have a myriad of experiences. We have tunnels, a forest, native bush, streams, a marae, a little village with shops and a main street. The children are having a great time imagining that they are on their bike or in their car on the road travelling throughout New Zealand and enjoying all the different experiences that they discover along the way.”