From cuddling babies to rolling in the mud with toddlers, Belinda Garner loves everything about her job.

Mrs Garner is a teacher at Top Kids Mount Maunganui and works with babies, toddlers and young children.

She likes to get down to the children's level and can often be seen playing with them on the playground or rolling around with them in the centre's mud pit.

Lining objects up is one of Graysun Martin-Pratt's favourite things to do and Mrs Garner is happy to help.


As the 3-year-old lines wooden blocks on a table like dominoes, Mrs Garner helps him count each one, adding learning into his fun.

He starts off with 10 blocks and counts the whole line each time he adds another, eventually reaching 21. When he knocks a block over, he starts again from 10 and Mrs Garner patiently counts along with him.

Although Graysun is one of the quieter ones, Mrs Garner says most of the children at the centre are very social and enjoy interacting with each other and the staff.

When asked what she likes about her job, Mrs Garner says "what's not to like?"

"I get to spend every day celebrating children's learning and there's nothing more important to me than that.

"I get to spend time with families, the community, different cultures, different personalities ... it's incredibly fulfilling teaching things and learning things about people."

Mrs Garner began her career intending to go into primary teaching but changed to early childhood when her own children were young.

"Seeing my little one first start early childhood was inspiring. It kind of played on my heart strings seeing those little milestones met and seeing the learning happening."

Thirteen years later, Mrs Garner is still loving her job.

"I love being a teacher and being surrounded by a great team of teachers. I'm really proud of our people.

"I love watching the journey of all of the kids. I love being down on the floor with the babies, playing in the mud with the toddlers and with the older kids and their inquisitive nature."

Getting down to the child's level was important, as well as showing them respect, Mrs Garner said.