Early Childhood Curriculum

 

One of the most wonderful things about early childhood education in New Zealand is that we are the only part of the mainstream education sector that is still able to encourage children to learn holistically (Kotahitanga- Holistic development) through all areas of the curriculum, encompassing all areas of development while following and enhancing their own interests, learning who they are, their talents and interests.

In short, this is learning through play and our curriculum is Te Whariki.

Te Whariki is the mat that underpins our learning. It is what makes our learning possible and meaningful. To learn more about Te Whariki, what it is and its purpose, please click here.

Te Whariki

To read more about what learning through play looks like, carry on reading.

Arts and crafts, music, dance, role play, dramatic play, construction, messy pay, sand pit, clay, dough, dens, forts, race tracks, puzzles, games, stories, excursions, the activities, experiences and opportunities are endless and the learning is too.

Learning through play works because we all know how much more easily we grasp new ideas, learn new things, develop and grow when we are engaged in what we want to be doing. Learning styles are individual and interests are individual, so it’s motivating. The foundation for all core learning and curriculum areas flow through play in early childhood and this is how it happens….

Physical Development


There is physical development in every moment as they move around the rooms, negotiating tables and chairs, shelves, stairs and people. Then there are the bigger challenges of obstacle courses, climbing equipment and even the crazy challenges they give their bodies when they need to figure out how to get their cars down that hole they dug in the sandpit! It’s dancing, racing and performing. It's also the fine motor skills of negotiating a puzzle piece, threading a bead, playing with dough, learning to use cutlery and a range of other implements.

Mathematical Development


There is maths in everything; counting in cooking, walking, lining up cars, adding coloured squares to a collage, washing babies. There are shapes in the windows, sandwiches, door knobs, plug holes, house roofs and everywhere. Spatial concepts are learnt through where they stand, go through an obstacle course or hang upside down on the climbing frame. There is grouping, ordering, sequencing, adding and subtracting in everything they use, put away and take out. They learn about measurement when they compare their heights, fill a small beaker from a large pot, watch how far their balls, kites and paper planes will fly. You name it, they can count it, measure it, describe it, observe it and problem solve it. And they do, as they play, because our teachers notice and draw their attention to it as they work.

Language, Communication and Literacy


There is language, communication and literacy woven through everything. They are talking through what they do, learning new words and language with everything. They are seeing the written word, symbols and signs all around them in their walks in the community, in our labels at the centre, in the stories we read together and their first attempts at recognising words and writing them.

They learn to retell a story and then enhance their story telling further by adding a picture to it. They show their first stages in literacy when they role play or attempt writing. They learn that writing has meaning from the books they read and can be used to share factual and fictional information. They relate to writing personally when they ask their teachers to write their names on their work or when they attempt to write their own names.

Scientific thought


There is science throughout their play. They predict what will happen when they race their cars and compare their predictions to the outcomes. They discover what happens when they mix red and blue paint. Sometimes they are lucky enough to watch the life cycles of monarchs as they flutter into our garden in the summer and pique their interest, promoting research and finding out more about it. They mix water to sand and see the texture change and then dry back to dry loose sand. They combine some edible and some inedible ingredients in baking and watch the change as each ingredient is added and then watch it cook into a totally different and fully edible substance. They use this learned knowledge to talk about what they know and predict what they don't yet have the answers to.

Personal development


Friendships, relationships and understanding the impact of others on them and the impact of them on others is also experienced and learned from through their play. They learn to share, compromise and understand how their actions will be received and how to manage themselves in receiving the actions of others. They learn that they all speak different languages, even when they speak the same words. They have different cultural backgrounds, home cultures and influences and they learn how to work together with their differences respected and welcomed. We develop a sense of Mana Whenua - Belonging in Millie’s House and with each other.

A sense of Whakamana - Empowerment runs with our children through their encouraged independence, self-help skills, feeling of worth and excitement in lifelong learning. Learning to take responsibility for blowing their own noses, independent toileting, serving their own food, taking their own plates from the table, washing hands and faces are the starting blocks of self-care and independence. In play, selecting their own resources, sharing their own ideas and expressing their needs and opinions, all develop a sense of Mana Atua -Well-being as they are empowered to both recognise and share with others what they need and what others might need of them.

These are some of the aspects of our learning and development, but not all. All of our learning is carried out with attention to kohikitanga- holistic development.

So don't expect our learning to be a tidy process! We do learn to pack up and put away what we have finished with, but it can take time to finish. We appreciate our ability to wallow in our interests and are thankful that early childhood education in New Zealand allows us deep learning in creative, innovative and empowering ways.
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