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 early learning curriculum

Te Whāriki sets out the curriculum to be used in New Zealand early learning settings and provides guidance for its implementation.

Te Whāriki includes 2 documents in one: Te Whāriki:He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa Early childhood curriculum and Te Whāriki a te Kōhanga Reo. The 2 documents share a common framework while describing alternative curriculum pathways of equal status.

Te Whāriki links with the New Zealand Curriculum (NZC) and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa (TMoA) so that children are better supported as they transition from one learning environment to another.

Te Whāriki interprets curriculum broadly, taking it to include all the experiences, activities and events, both direct and indirect that occur within the early learning setting. It provides a framework of principles, strands, goals and learning outcomes that prioritises the mana of the child and emphasises respectful, reciprocal and responsive relationships. This framework provides a basis for each setting to ‘weave’ a local curriculum that reflects its own distinctive character and values.

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.

The curriculum framework

Te Whāriki’s broad principles

The 4 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

Teachers, kaiako 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 early learning teachers, kaiako and educators work together, everyone can help your child learn how to:

  • determine local priorities
  • design quality learning programmes
  • 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 confidence 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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