“Although Sunbeam is the oldest Christchurch Kindergarten, it is a bright and sunny spot, where one may find busy little housekeepers, gardeners, carpenters, artists, or musicians.” – Hazel Gorrie, Director, Christchurch Kindergarten Chronicle, 1938.
The oldest kindergarten in the Kidsfirst Kindergartens network holds a special place in our history and has served the children of surrounding Edgeware for well over a century. Miss Helena Hull was the Principal of Sunbeam and also headed the Student Training Programme at the kindergarten which turned out some of the earliest kindy teachers in Christchurch. Even then the fledgling Association had a philosophy of only employing 100% registered teachers.
Her tenure lasted 25 years with the Association, and she remains one of the most vibrant voices from our past. She was a staunch advocate for kindergarten.
Helena Hull would write “A message to parents” in the Kindergarten Chronicle of 1945 saying…
“Though many years have passed since I retired from Kindergarten work, yet, I can sincerely say my thoughts are frequently with the mothers whose children attend Kindergarten…
…You are indeed fortunate in that you are able to send your children to a Kindergarten where you know they will be well trained in that little world of their own under teachers who have studied the child’s mind, and understand them.”
As part of the celebrations of our 50th anniversary in 1961, the original Sunbeam Kindergarten building was replaced and reopened at the hour of the first meeting called half a century later.
Former Kidsfirst Kindergartens Teacher, Janet Wills, remembers the excitement of attending Sunbeam Kindergarten as a child in the new building. She recalls that when her parents told her to get ready for kindergarten the following day, she asked why – she didn’t see the point because she’d played with everything the day before!
The site also played host to many of the events for the Centennary over fifty years later and is a thriving and busy kindergarten to this day – and a jewel in our crown.
Sunbeam first opened its kindergarten gates to local children in 1911, as proudly pictured here in a class photo.
The Kidsfirst Sunbeam big backyard is host to a world of wonder, like butterflies on the kindy’s Swan Plant in 2018.