There were five practices the Ministry of Education wants to develop further through the revamp of Te Whāriki. A rich curriculum for every child, a focus on learning that matters here, affirming of identity, language, and culture, parents, and whānau engaged in their children’s learning, and, personalised pathways to school and kura. Let’s have a deeper look at these five practices.

A rich curriculum for every child


      • If nothing is going on, there is nothing to talk about. Your setting doesn’t have to be child-led, introduce something that interests you. One of my current interests is spending and saving money. Based on that, I would start a conversation with children about what that means to them, maybe set up a shop, and discuss the concept of coins, math, saving, spending, and the cost of items. Let the children guide the next step, but start them with a provocation.
      • Noticing, recognising, and responding. Notice the child who wants to be a shopkeeper, notice the child who thinks that one coin equals one item. Recognise that there are teachable moments in there and respond! This is intentional teaching.  
      • Take something and explore it deeply. Take the ideas of the shop. Explore ideas about where does the shopkeeper get the items from, how are they displayed, what do they look like, how do they feel, what do you do with them when you get them home. Who does the shopping in your family?. Stick to one idea and go really deeply into that idea, don’t spread yourself too thin, or broadly.
      • Bi-cultural curriculum – how much of what is mentioned above can you do in Māori, can you talk about the bartering systems of countries without money. What words do you know that you can use to replace key words like money, cost, and food items? Don’t be shy about your limited knowledge, celebrate and speak the words and phrases you do know.  

A focus on learning that matters here


      • What learning is valued in this community? What is important to this community, how can I help through my teaching? Again, go deeply into the topics that matter, rather than spreading yourself too thin. Are the aspirations of the community visible?
      • Share your knowledge, if you are passionate and eager about a topic, it might be contagious and others will pick it up. Kaiako have the benefit of an education (and life) so should be able to contribute ideas to the curriculum.
      • What do we want for these learners in this context right here and right now? Think Blue skies, what would be the ideal environment, what would I do if I could do anything right now? Now, make a plan and work backwards from your goal, what you can do today to work towards your goal.  

Affirming of identity, language, and culture


    • It’s our responsibility as people living in Aotearoa to engage with Māori language and tikanga. It is our responsibility as teachers to ensure the next generation have a clear respect and understanding of the indigenous language of Aotearoa.  
    • Supporting children’s first languages including NZ sign language.
    • Talk to parents about language use, and how kaiako can support these parents. Act like you want to help, show you care and are interested.

Parents and whānau engaged in their children’s learning


      • How does the service support this? How do you build relationships with families, not just parents? Be welcoming to all whānau members when they come into the setting.
      • Kaiako have regular dialogue with parents and whānau about what their children are learning at the setting and at home.
      • Parents and whānau are ‘funds of knowledge’. 

         Personalised pathways to school and kura


    • Schools and ece settings should fit around children, not the other way around.
    • Children have the toolkit they need to embark on the pathway to school and kura – they are confident and competent travellers.
    • Take your known skills as a learner and these go with you to school. Exalt the mana of the child, celebrate what they can do and focus on that.
    • Child should be able to take what you know and can do, and put it to good use.

These blogs are crafted from my interpretation of the presentation presented to communities from the Ministry about the new Te Whāriki, they may not be other people’s understanding of what was covered at the time.  Let’s talk, what is something different you are doing in your ECE setting that reflects the changes in te Whāriki?



Kath CooperKath Cooper works for  Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand. She is passionate about all things early childhood and issues of sustainability.  Her recent research was on the visibility of gay early childhood teachers. She lives with her wife in Wellington and has four lovely children and three amazing grandchildren.

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya was born in Lower Hutt and went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone Kindergarten. A qualified ECE, she studied at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked with home-based educators, in community-based childcare and in kindergarten. With childhood memories of reading books and writing stories, combined with her passion for all things social media, Sonya segued into her role with us at Storypark as social media manager.

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