What they learn

At an ECE service children learn how to:

  • interact with new people and form relationships
  • trust adults and other children
  • play and learn with people outside their immediate family
  • take turns and negotiate
  • take part in learning experiences in a group
  • ask questions and find out more.

These types of skills enhance what your child has already learned at home and helps them develop into a positive, confident and capable individual. They also form a strong foundation for later learning.

Te Whāriki 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 most New Zealand ECE services to guide children’s learning opportunities.

The literal meaning of Te Whāriki is ‘the woven mat’. ECE services 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 service’s learning opportunities are all woven together to contribute to your child’s unique learning story.

This early learning story forms the beginning of your child’s learning journey to share with your family, other ECE services and eventually school. Services 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 and community. A child’s family 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:

  • Mana atua wellbeing
  • Mana tangata contribution
  • Mana whenua belonging
  • Mana reo communication
  • Mana aotūroa exploration.

Because learning happens everywhere and all the time, the connections children make about their learning between home and their ECE service helps them build strong learning foundations.

When ECE teachers and family/whānau work together, you can all 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 children’s lives and provide them with 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.

If you are interested in learning more about Te Whāriki, your local library or ECE service should have a copy you can look at. You can download your own electronic copy free or purchase a hard copy from the Down the Back of the Chair website.

Content last updated: 8 March 2011