What your child learns at ECE

At their ECE service or kōhanga reo your child will learn skills that will consolidate and build on what they have already learned at home.

What will my child learn?

Early childhood education (ECE) will help your child develop into a positive, confident and capable individual, and form a strong foundation for later learning. Your child will learn how to:

  • form friendships
  • play and explore
  • be courageous and try new things
  • ask questions and have a say
  • meet people outside their whānau
  • learn to relate well to other children in a group
  • sing, dance, and play games
  • think and solve problems
  • take turns, negotiate, and share
  • understand their own feelings and those of others
  • learn about disagreements and how to manage these
  • learn about words, numbers, and how things work
  • have conversations with children and adults
  • begin to understand and make sense of the world around them.

Te Whāriki –  the ECE curriculum framework

Te Whāriki is the curriculum framework for the ECE sector. It covers the education and care of children from birth to school age and is used by ECE services and kōhanga reo to guide children’s learning opportunities.

The woven mat

Te Whāriki means ‘the woven mat’. ECE services and kōhanga reo use the curriculum’s principles and strands to weave a learning programme for your child. Your child’s strengths and interests, all the things they learn as part of their family, and the ECE service or kōhanga reo's learning opportunities are woven together to contribute to your child’s unique learning story.

This story forms the beginning of your child’s early learning journey, to share with your family and whānau, other ECE services and kōhanga reo and eventually school and kura. Your child’s ECE service or kōhanga reo will record and communicate your child’s learning story with you in different ways.

Aspirations for your child

Te Whāriki is based on the aspirations that children grow up:

  • as competent and confident learners and communicators
  • healthy in mind, body and spirit
  • secure in their sense of belonging
  • secure in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.

Te Whāriki’s broad principles

The four broad principles of Te Whāriki are:

Empowerment – children will be empowered to learn and grow.
Holistic development – children learn and grow in a holistic way. Their intellectual, social, cultural, physical, emotional and spiritual learning is interwoven across all their experiences.
Family, whānau and community – a child’s family, whānau and community are recognised as part of the learning experience.
Relationships – children learn through positive relationships with people, places and things.

Five learning strands

Te Whāriki’s four principles are interwoven with these learning areas:

Manaatua – wellbeing

Manatangata – contribution

Mana whenua – belonging

Mana reo – communication

Manaaotūroa – exploration

Parents and educators working together

Because learning happens everywhere and all the time, the connections your child makes about their learning between home and their ECE service and kōhanga reo helps them build strong learning foundations.

When ECE educators and families and whānau work together, everyone can help your child learn how to:

  • reflect on different ways of doing things
  • make links across time and place
  • develop different kinds of relationships
  • see different points of view.

These experiences enrich your child’s life and gives them the knowledge, skills and outlook they need to tackle new challenges. All the everyday things you do at home with your child helps their learning and can be linked to the principles and strands of Te Whāriki.

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