Te Whariki is the curriculum for early childhood care and education in New Zealand and we believe it is the best possible framework and guide for implementing an early childhood learning program.
This curriculum is founded on the following aspirations for children:
to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.
This curriculum defines how to achieve progress towards this vision for learners in early childhood learning environments. It is about the individual child. Its starting point is the learner and the knowledge, skills, and attitudes that the child brings to their experiences. The curriculum is also about early childhood settings. Learning begins at home, and early childhood programmes outside the child’s own home play a significant role in extending early learning and in laying the foundations for successful future learning.
Each community to which a child belongs, whether it is a family home or an early childhood setting outside the home, provides opportunities for new learning to be fostered: for children to reflect on alternative ways of doing things; make connections across time and place; establish different kinds of relationship; and encounter different points of view. These experiences enrich children’s lives and provide them with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to tackle new challenges.
This is an early childhood curriculum specifically designed for children from the time of birth to school entry, and it provides links to learning in school settings. The learning environment in the early childhood years is different from that in the school sector. This learning environment, the constraints of age, and the special nature of the early childhood years are elaborated on in this curriculum.
This curriculum emphasises the critical role of socially and culturally mediated learning and of reciprocal and responsive relationships for children with people, places, and things. Children learn through collaboration with adults and peers, through guided participation and observation of others, as well as through individual exploration and reflection.
There are four broad principles at the centre of the early childhood curriculum. The strands and goals, or essential areas of learning and development arise from the four principles. The principles and strands together form the framework for the curriculum. Each strand has several goals. Learning outcomes have been developed for each goal in each of the strands, so that the curriculum becomes an integrated foundation for every child’s development.