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 relationships | ngā hononga emphasises the need for relationships between teachers, children and families that engender feelings of respect, support, trust, warmth, and encouragement for the kind of positive social and emotional climate that underpins successful learning.
This principle also encourages teachers to consider how to support children to develop relationships with a range of people, places and things. It is through engaging with people, places and things that children can develop, test and modify working theories that help them make sense of the world. Collaborative inquiries and activities are valued for offering children opportunities to learn from adults and peers. For Māori children, valued relationships which promote children’s development also include connections to tīpuna (ancestors) and connections established through whakapapa (genealogy).
Teachers should ensure that environments offer children opportunities to experience and explore diverse cultural tools, both physical (books, artworks, gestures), practical (art techniques, protocol for gatherings), or psychological (attitudes and beliefs). Note this is different to the tokenistic use of diverse cultural props intended to help children develop an appreciation of different cultures. Cultural tools enable children to participate in and contribute to their world. Further, making sure that children can utilise cultural tools that are prominent in their homes and communities can be a important way in which children from diverse cultures can transfer learning from other contexts.
Some particular practices are more likely to support strong relationships between children, teachers and families in early childhood education settings. These include:
- Culturally responsive pedagogies and the identification and use of important cultural tools
- Parent partnership
- Respectful care practices
- Curricular programmes based on collaborative investigations and inquiries
- Play pedagogies
- Intentional teaching of social and emotional competencies
By Dr Vicki Hargraves