Below-zero temperatures and a heavy snowfall would cause many early childhood centres to shut the doors and not open.
But there are some services with environments that are designed to cope.
ChildForum’s chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander visited Zig Zag Zoo, an early childhood centre in central Queenstown, following a major snow fall the day before.
Snow and ice had caused major disruptions at the airport and to roads.
There were closures of local schools and early childhood services.
She said she found Zig Zag Zoo to be “a lovely and welcoming centre that reflects well the often challenging weather conditions, to the advantage of children, families and teachers.”
It has underfloor heating inside and outdoor play extensions for the under-2s and the over-2s rooms that can be fully enclosed for wind protection and heated.
Sinead Harrington, the centre’s manager, said that many of the staff lived close by so they were able to ensure childcare was available for those families able to get their children to the centre.
“This is a transient town, families come here often not knowing anyone and not having any support. It’s good to be able to provide that support. They may have no one else available to help and they may be working in essential services so it’s vital that we do our best to be a centre that can stay open even when it snows,” she said.
Dr Alexander noted three stand-out features of Zig Zag Zoo.
First, there was no skimping on electricity to save money.
Ms Harrington explained: “power costs are not an issue – it’s something that we don’t really think about and we don’t have any thoughts of cutting back on because warm children are happy children.”
Second, the environment was child appropriate with seats, tables, cabinets and displays to suit all children be they crawlers, toddlers, or pre-schoolers.
“A key part of our philosophy is to promote independence so, for example, we have chairs and tables that match children’s heights and capabilities. We can focus on nurturing children rather than stepping in to assist or interpreting their play.”
A third noteworthy feature was the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere even late in the afternoon when normally everyone would be feeling at least a bit tired or like going home.
“The warmth of the teachers toward the children was very obvious. I noticed infants engaging in spontaneous fun and caring interactions with each other. This is testament to the enthusiasm and caring of Ms Harrington and members of the staffing team,” said Dr Alexander.
Attendance is capped at 38 children so everyone gets to know everyone and the centre practices primary caregiving supporting close relationships between children and teachers.
“Pyjama Day took place on Friday 7th July at Zig Zag Zoo.
We had a wonderful day in our pyjamas and would like to say a very big thank you to everyone for their kind donations to the Foster Hope children.”
“It’s chilly outside! Here at Zig Zag Zoo we embrace all kinds of weather and believe there’s no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing.
Please make sure you bring in (named) warm clothing and footwear to keep the little ones cozy on these cold winter days.”
With greater public awareness about the importance of movement in children of all ages, ZigZagZoo has been making movement a fun and important learning experience. For the past six Fridays, Active Movement, part of Sports Otago, has been giving the young students age appropriate classes.
Feeling the cold this week? Stay warm with a Zig Zag Zoo Beanie! Purchase from reception for just $7.50.
Thank you to everyone who came and joined in with our Winter Festival Parade on Saturday, it was a huge success! ZigZagZoo were very excited to be awarded the prize for having the best business float! As a prize we have received a beautiful Maori sculpture. We had so much fun during the parade, and hope you and your family enjoyed being part of such a fun event. Thank you once again for your support. Here are a few snap shots of the day!
“The parade is getting closer and we only have a week left to go!
We are all getting very excited here at the Zoo! Don’t forget, if you would like to be involved on the day, there is information at the sign in sheets at both Zoo centers. We would love for you and your whanau to be a part of such a fun experience!”
We have been busy here at Zig Zag Zoo getting ready for the Winter Festival Parade which takes place on the 20th June. The theme for this year’s parade is sustainability, and we have decided to add a twist to this with a Mid-Winter Christmas theme.
Daisy and Rupert the Centre Turtles enjoying the Queenstown sunshine
“Kia ora Parents. I would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Both ZigZagZoo’s are open between Christmas and New Year.
Thank you so much for your support over the year and we look forward to working with you and your children in 2015.”