Te Whariki Is The New Zealand Curricula Approach That Was Commissioned In 1991 After The Government Became Concerned: Pedagogy And Curriculum Essay, BCU, Ireland

Te Whariki is the New Zealand curricula approach that was commissioned in 1991 after the government became concerned that there was a large cultural difference in the standard of childcare in the early years. New Zealand wanted to embrace all children of all cultures within their early years settings.

In 1991 the New Zealand government commissioned Helen May and Margaret Carr to develop a new curriculum for the country. In 1993 there was a draft publication of Te Whariki published and was sent out to selected centers around New Zealand for trial then in 1996, the final draft was published for use by all centers. This was used for 20 years until 2017 when the document was reviewed and a revised edition was published.

The Whariki or woven mat is used to describe the principles and strands of the curriculum as they are interwoven together to create the basis of the curriculum document.

It is hoped that the different principles and strands will encourage children, carers, families, and the community to come together to create a “local” curricula that are specific to the area in which the center is based.

The Whariki also has a special meaning for the Maori culture as weaving the Whariki or woven mat takes time and is almost always done as a community in the same way that they hope the community will come together to be there for the early years sector.

There are 4 principles and 5 strands in Te Whariki. The principles are empowerment, holistic development, family and community, and relationships. The strands are well-being, belonging, contribution, communication, and exploration.

The strands are also split into goals and learning outcomes allowing practitioners to further progress children’s learning by giving them the next steps to work towards in the child’s development.

Te Whariki encourages the adult to facilitate children’s learning by allowing them to take the lead in play activities. It encourages the adult to bring in any skills that they have to the setting such as being able to play a musical instrument or knowledge of a specialist area to enhance children’s play experiences.

The Kaiako or teachers in the setting are encouraged to build relationships with the children they care for, to encourage diversity by using the Maori language with the children throughout the day, to follow the children’s lead in selecting activities, and to use their skills to enhance those activities while being responsive to the ever-changing needs of the children.

The environment for learning in Te Whariki encourages children to have free access to resources, children are encouraged to take the lead in play activities and practitioners are encouraged to help enhance the play. For the infants, the environment will be rich in activities and equipment that encourage the holistic development of the child.

Sensory activities including outdoor experiences happen daily where the child can enjoy the sights, smells, and sounds of their local area. Their indoor environment too will be thoughtfully set out including lighting, color, and design. Toddlers enjoy equally stimulating surroundings to play and learn in. The toddlers will have many open-ended resources and loose parts for play.

They will have time for outdoor play daily including areas for large physical development. The oldest children in the early years setting usually have a more challenging area to work in. Activities are planned to suit the interests of the children while encouraging them to think for themselves. Many areas are designed to encourage thinking, exploring, and spatial awareness as well as offering areas for social development with their peers.

Te Whariki views the child at the center of the curriculum. The Te Whariki curricula state that children are positioned as “confident and competent learners from birth”. The curriculum also ensures that all children have the right to protection and encourages children’s health and well-being.

Each of the principles when broken down for planning can ensure that all of the children’s needs are encompassed.  Te Whariki also prides itself in being an inclusive curriculum that encourages diversity and learning from all ethnic groups, it also ensures that play can be adapted to suit children who may have additional needs and removes barriers that can exclude children from attending the service with their peers.

A large part of Te Whariki is encouraging the wider community to be involved in the upbringing of the children. Te Whariki states “The Kaiko weave together the principles and strands, in collaboration with children, parents, whanau, and community to create a local curriculum for their setting”.

Many of the Kaiko will use Moari folklore to tell stories to the children. They choose folklore that is relevant to the area where the center is based, read the children the stories, visit areas of interest, and provide further learning opportunities once back at the center. Many of them will also invite the children whanau into the center to talk about folklore.

When comparing Te Whariki to Aistear the curriculum framework in Ireland it becomes clear that there are many similarities. Aistear is a relatively new curriculum having only been published in 2009. The process of developing Aistear included studying various international curricula and Te Whariki was one of the ones chosen.

“The conception of Aistear has been informed by other early childhood curricula, particularly, the play-based Te Whariki (1996) of New Zealand”.  Many areas of Te Whariki have been used throughout Aistear. Both curricula have similar principles where they want to encourage the child to be an individual, they want the child to have connections within their community and they also want the children to learn and develop at their own pace focusing on what the children’s interests are rather than what the adults in the service choose for them.

Even the principles and strands of the New Zealand curricula have similar titles to Aistear themes and aims with both frameworks supporting the children’s well-being, belonging communication, and exploration all featuring in both. Both Aistear and Te Whariki have the same vision for the children where they hope that children will grow up being confident, competent learners.

Learning stories or portfolios are produced by the teachers in both settings and although they can be done in a way that suits the individual setting they can include observations, photos, feedback from parents, and the next steps for the child.

In conclusion, Te Whariki and Aistear are very similar documents, although there are some minor cultural differences between them for the most part they both want the same outcome for the children in the early years services to be confident and competent learners who are treated as unique individuals.

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