ECE Resources

Principle of Family and Community | Whānau Tangata

This series of guides on the principles and strands of Te Whāriki offers an overview of the key values and underpinnings of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand. Each guide provides links to other resources across our website which can help in implementation of the curriculum.

The principle of family and community | whānau tangata places emphasis on supporting the wellbeing, learning and development of children by attending to the wellbeing of, and relationship with, the child’s family. Support and respect for children’s families and teachers enhance family and teacher wellbeing which is integral to children’s individual wellbeing

This principle places the onus on early childhood teachers to find ways to build meaningful relationships with each family, in a way which suits each family’s particular circumstances, cultural values, and familiarity and confidence with early childhood education. Strong relationships with teachers enable families to contribute to and participate in  curricular activities and decision-making including planning and assessment activities. Teachers should also find ways to learn about each family’s aspirations for their child. Culturally appropriate forms of communicating and an understanding of diverse perspectives are very significant to building effective relationships with families.

Children’s wellbeing and learning are enhanced when their culture, language and identity are respected and affirmed. Strong relationships with families and whānau can help teachers to understand and be responsive to the individual values, traditions and beliefs about learning and child-rearing of each family, and to the particular skills, knowledge, attitudes and dispositions that they value. Strong relationships with families also enable teachers to understand children’s strengths, interests and needs so that they can build on what children bring with them to the setting and make links between the learning experienced in the early childhood setting and events and activities at home.

Some particular practices can be helpful in engaging family and community in children’s early childhood education. These include:

By Dr Vicki Hargraves


Dr Vicki Hargraves

Vicki runs our ECE webinar series and also is responsible for the creation of many of our ECE research reviews. Vicki is a teacher, mother, writer, and researcher living in Marlborough. She recently completed her PhD using philosophy to explore creative approaches to understanding early childhood education. She is inspired by the wealth of educational research that is available and is passionate about making this available and useful for teachers.

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