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Te Whāriki: Early childhood curriculum policy statement

A sector that I don't often write about, but am coming to realise the error of my ways, is Early Childhood Education (ECE). From ECE colleagues I get a sense that this is an often sidelined sector, which is crazy given the fundamental impact that educators can have for very young learners - as the following quote illustrates

Early childhood is “…a period of momentous significance for all people growing up in [our] culture… By the time this period is over, children will have formed conceptions of themselves as social beings, as thinkers, and as language users, and they will have reached certain important decisions about their own abilities and their own worth.”
(Donaldson, M., Grieve, R., and Pratt, C. Early Childhood Development and Education: Readings in Psychology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1983, p. 1)

Recently a dear friend from the UK asked me to do a wee bit of research into Te Whāriki, a New Zealand Early childhood curriculum policy statement that has been getting a lot of attention internationally since its introduction in 1996. So, rather than putting the resources and links into an email I felt it would be good to share here, and to invite other folks to comment on, or add to the resources listed.

The Education.govt.nz site describes Te Whāriki as "a framework for providing tamariki (children's) early learning and development within a sociocultural context" (source). The policy statement "emphasises the learning partnership between kaiako (teachers), parents, and whānau/families" (source). The approach means that the "Kaiako (teachers) weave an holistic curriculum in response to tamariki (children's) learning and development in the early childhood setting and the wider context of the child's world" (source).

The New Zealand Ministry of Education site adds a little more details (which you can read in full) including the four broad principles of Te Whāriki:

  • Empowerment (Whakamana). Children will be empowered to learn and grow
  • Holistic development (Kotahitanga). Children learn and grow in a holistic way. Their intellectual, social, cultural, physical, emotional and spiritual learning is interwoven across all their experiences
  • Family and community (Whānau tangata). A child’s family and community are recognised as part of the learning experience
  • Relationships (Ngā hononga). Children learn through positive relationships with people, places and things.

A short video (1 min 47 secs) that summarises Te Whāriki and discusses whether it needs review.

Learn more

Some of the resources below are free to access and / or download, others you can purchase.

Complementary resources

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