This help centre article was written for Koru Kids' Home Nursery service

One thing that makes a Koru Kids Home Nursery extra special is the Koru Ethos.

  • This Ethos guides how our childminders care for children and help them to explore the world around them.

  • The Koru Ethos is centred around play, and the importance of intrinsic motivation and self-regulation as opposed to coercive control.

  • Parents value both academic success and mental health, and they're not willing to sacrifice one for the other – they want to give their child tools they can use their whole life long to flourish on their own unique path, whatever that might be. Parents also deeply care that their child can be a positive force for good in the world, connected to the community and lifting up others as well as themselves.

What influenced the Koru Ethos?

  • When we developed the Koru Ethos we certainly didn't come up with it out of thin air, we had many influences. In fact, we consulted experts all over the world, from China to Sweden, from specialists in Montessori to Reggio Emilia, from Harvard to Oxford, in a multi-year project. We took inspiration from the best national curriculums around the world, from Te Whariki in New Zealand to the Early Years Foundation Stage here in the UK.

The ethos is centred around the whole child.

  • When we think about what children need, we take a long view, and we talk about the whole child.

  • In terms of the long view: we believe learning is for life, not just for school. And we want to give children the tools to succeed, long after they leave our care.

  • In terms of the whole child: we take a wide holistic view of what success might mean for an individual child. Yes, success in school is important but it's just one small part of a good life, along with other goals, like health, relationships, joy, and a sense of purpose.

The ethos helps us raise strong, resilient 21st century children.

  • The modern world, the 21st century, requires modern survival skills. The old certainties are gone. Our children's future is likely to be challenging and chaotic.

  • They're going to need to be able to build relationships, including with people who are different to them, demonstrating kindness and empathy.

  • It's important that they are creative, adaptable, curious, with a love of learning.

  • They're going to need mental strength and resilience. This is something that society often gets wrong, as we can see by the current epidemics of anxiety and depression among adults. We know, science tells us, that positive mental health for adults starts in childhood. We can do much better for our children.

The Koru Ethos is also for the whole family and society.

  • It's not enough for childcare to be great for the kids. Childcare needs to meet the needs of the whole family, as the wellbeing of any single person in a family affects the wellbeing of everyone else. So, when we support families, we help everyone in that family.

  • But in the Koru Ethos, we also think that childcare is important for society. Families form society, families form communities, families form the world.

How is the Koru Ethos delivered through great childcare?

Can I trust you?

  • Children need to feel 100% secure. This means physical safety and protection from harm and also emotional security. It's vital for their brain development. Until the age of three, a million neural connections are made in a child's brain every second. Especially in the earliest days, children need a sense of consistency and utter security to lay the foundations of positive mental health for the rest of their lives.

Do you know me?

  • Children need to feel connected. They need to feel like they are known. Through connection with other children and adults, children develop skills of emotional literacy, social competence, empathy and kindness.

Do you help me fly?

  • Children need to grow physically and mentally strong in order to fly. For physical strength, they'll need healthy food and lots of exercise, ideally outdoors. And we love outdoor settings because they can be both more calming and, strangely, more stimulating. They also help to develop the ability of children to handle risk. But in addition to this physical strength, mental strength is equally important to fly. If we're going to help children weather the storms in their lives, they're going to need to develop strong internal armour.

Can I find my path?

  • Children need time and space to explore. They have a natural curiosity and a drive to experiment and enquire; anyone who has spent any time with children will have noticed this. And the more we can nurture and protect these instincts – definitely not try to drive them out (they're amazing!) – we can help children develop knowledge and skills in areas that interest them and discover what brings them joy, so they can find their path.

Do you hear me?

  • Children need to be able to express themselves so they can be heard. They need to discover different ways to create and communicate and develop the confidence to express their ideas. We can help by truly listening, treating all behaviour as communication, which it is, and providing a language-rich environment and plenty of opportunities for expressive arts.

Is this place fair for us?

  • Children need to connect to a mission bigger than themselves. Even young children can be empowered to make a contribution to their community as they grow. And as this sphere of influence expands, children develop their ability to make decisions and judgments on matters they care about.

What we’ve outlined here is pretty theoretical. In our training for the Early Educators that work in our Home Nurseries, we translate this theory into practicality so we can make it real, and help our 21st-century children with their 21st-century childhoods.


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