Pūnana Leo classrooms are warm inviting honua ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i or Hawaiian language environments where culturally relevant, age-appropriate curriculum is delivered. Whenever possible, ‘Aha Pūnana Leo employs elders from the Hulu Kūpuna generation to interact with the children on a regular basis. Just as fledglings are fed by the mouths of their parents, so too are Pūnana Leo keiki fed the language and culture from the mouths of these kupuna. At Pūnana Leo, classrooms are divided into smaller honuanua, learning centers, where learning takes place.
What is a honuanua?
Honuanua are small areas in the classroom that are dedicated to a specific content area. Keiki develop skills through practice and manipulation of the tools at each center. At the Math honuanua, keiki can master ordering and grouping by sorting sea shells. At the Hakalama (Hawaiian language phonetical system) honuanua, keiki can practice the sounds of the language using learning tools such as flash cards, pictures, and DVDs. Keiki spend part of the school day independently exploring in these learning centers.
What is the importance of learning centers?
In addition to the content areas, keiki are given the opportunity to learn and internalize the following cultural values at each honuanua:
He wahi ko kēlā me kēia mea.
Everything has a proper place.
Hana maiau. ‘A‘ohe mālama, pau i ka ‘iole.
Work with care and neatness. When we neglect our things, they disappear.
I ka nānā nō a ‘ike.
Watch and learn.
Nānā ka maka; ho‘olohe ka pepeiao; hana ka lima.
The eyes watch; the ears listen; the hands work.
Ma ka hana ka ‘ike.
Learning is the result of trying.
He kuleana ko ke keiki.
Even children can shoulder responsibility.
A‘o ke keiki hānau mua i kona muli.
Older children should teach younger children.
He a‘o ka honua a me nā mea külohelohe.
The natural environment is our classroom.
Hana a no‘ono‘o ‘ae‘oia.
Work and think independently.
Hana hou a pa‘a. Ho’oma’ama’a.
Repeat until mastered. Practice.
Maika‘i ka hana, maika‘i ka hua.
Work well, we get a good product.