A deliciously tempting ‘model kindy’ made out of gingerbread and covered in icing and other goodies, from the early photo albums of our Association.
In 2005, Russell Sears (73) shared a story with the Richmond Kindergarten children. Russell had his first story time with the kindergarten in 1932 when he was a kindy kid himself and came back in 2005 as a volunteer in the Story Readers Programme to share his own experiences of Richmond Kindergarten in the 1930s.
Su Blacklock, Head Teacher at the time of our centenary, had been at Richmond since 1978 and shared some of her most notable memories with us from training.
Su trained in 1970/71 and she remembers her training and early days in kindergarten well, noting that things were done quite differently then to the expectations today.
“When I first started teaching, at 12 o’clock, the morning session finished and we used to send all the children away on their trikes down the street. You’d stand at the corner and all the mothers who were stay-at-home mums would come out of their houses stand next to their letterboxes and wait for their children to peddle home for lunch.”
One of the greatest changes, Su’s noticed has been in the technology available to children and kindergartens.
“When you took photos, you had to wait until the film was used, then take it to the chemist, and sometimes only four would have worked out. Now you can just take heaps and heaps of digital photos, or make movies, and it’s great for the children to visually share what they’ve been doing. The technology changes are a fabulous aspect. I remember in the early days, to do a newsletter for parents, you had the old gestetner, with a stencil and meths, that you turned by hand, and spent all Friday afternoon churning out 80 newsletters.”
With trained teachers, timetable changes and a smaller child to teacher ratio, Su says there’s been changes in how the children, teachers and family interact.
“When I first came into teaching, there was a ratio of 1:20, now it’s 1:10, you can do so much more, and you get to know families so much better. The children coming all day has really brought continuity for them too. I think the children’s profile books are one of the best things to happen to kindergarten. I love writing stories about the children, and letting parents and whānau see what their children are learning during the day.”
But while some of these small things may have changed, Su acknowledges that kindergarten’s main focus has been pretty consistent over the years.
“Kindergarten, since its inception, has been focused on children, families and communities, free play and the insistence on trained teachers. But other aspects are just totally, totally different,” says Su.
The marching band of young children at Kidsfirst Richmond in the 1930’s. Ready to play!
Kidsfirst Richmond celebrated its centenary in 2021. Of course, there was cake.