Te Whaariki, New Zealand’s Early Childhood Curriculum is about aspirations for children to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their senses of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valid contribution to society (Ministry of Education, 1996).
Our centre programme is based on the principles of Te Whaariki and is strongly influenced by the theory and practices from Reggio Emilia, the work of Dr Emmi Pikler and Magda Gerber’s Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE). Teachers strengthen their knowledge of Te Whaariki by examining the theory and the practices of educationalists from Reggio Emilia and RIE applying it in the context of New Zealand early childhood practice.
Children are seen as having preparedness, potential, curiosity and interest in engaging in social interaction, establishing relationships, constructing their learning and negotiating with everything their environment brings to them.
The environment is an important part of our programme, planned to act as the third teacher. Teachers plan the environment to provide children with materials and opportunities that engage their interest and attention and that are authentic and meaningful. A high priority is given to presenting materials beautifully and making the environment aesthetically pleasing.
Teachers see themselves as partners in the process of learning. By observing and listening to children carefully, asking questions to discover children’s ideas, hypotheses and theories they use the understanding they gain to act as a resource for the children.
Excursions are an important and exciting part of the programme, giving the opportunity for children to engage in first hand learning and allow educators to make links between the centre’s curriculum.
It is important to us that we create an environment where children will feel safe and secure, confident to initiate their own learning, practice new skills and revisit activities and equipment.