Playcentre embraces Te Whāriki philosophy

Issue: Volume 97, Number 12

Posted: 16 July 2018
Reference #: 1H9jbF

A North Island early childhood service explains how Te Whāriki has helped them to reflect on and improve their whānau-focused practice.

Last year’s update of Te Whāriki emphasised the importance of promoting learning partnerships between kaiako, parents and whānau. One centre which has successfully focused on this collaborative approach is Park Road Playcentre in Palmerston North.

Playcentres are based on the philosophy of whānau tupu nga tahi, families growing together. They aim to enrich communities by strengthening parent engagement and recognising parents and whānau as the first and best educators of children.

In practice, this means each Playcentre is cooperatively governed and led by volunteer parents, though many are also supported by kaiako trained through the Playcentre parent education programme or other early childhood qualifications.

As part of supporting the implementation of Te Whāriki 2017, CORE Education was contracted to establish early childhood networks focused on curriculum implementation. Kaiako from a range of services throughout New Zealand were sought to take on leadership roles as pedagogical leader.

The role of the pedagogical leader was to support the wider team to engage with the update of Te Whāriki and to lead an internal evaluation focused on one of the five key areas that the Ministry has indicated through the focus of the professional learning and development require strengthening in the early learning sector. The Playcentre’s focus was on establishing learning partnerships with parents and whānau.

Park Road Playcentre Pedagogical Leader Kathryn Prescott and Playcentre whānau decided to inquire into how effectively kaiako document learning for all tamariki. In Playcentre it is expected that Playcentre whānau would be contributing to the assessment documentation of all children over time.

“Through the evaluation process we actually identified that what we thought we were not doing we actually were doing really well. This was really exciting for us and empowering for kaiako to understand that they actually are achieving this already. We then took a deeper look at what the information was telling us.”

New strategies in place

What they found was that although whānau were documenting children’s learning for children other than their own, this was mostly for older children. The Playcentre whanau have now put strategies in place to support kaiako to confidently write stories for the younger children in their centre.

One of these strategies included Kathryn and Playcentre whānau working to develop a planning document for each family to complete at the beginning of each term. This document helps to guide other parents in how they might support each child to meet their individual learning goals.

Kathryn shares other strategies that have been developed to support kaiako in this work.

“These include displaying each child’s individual learning goal so that this can remain front of mind for all whānau, and reflecting on progress towards their goals as we evaluate each session and using this information to consider what the next steps might be in supporting and extending children’s learning.”

A shift in thinking

Curriculum champion for Manawatu Pip Brunn supported the Playcentre in this work and says the updated Te Whāriki is significant for parent-led services.

“It may require a real significant shift in thinking for some Playcentre parents and what their responsibility is to actually know and understand the curriculum and to be using it regularly in their everyday lives at Playcentre. The idea of this update in 2017 was to get it off the shelves and in our everyday lives, not just in parent-led services, but in all early childhood services,” she says.

“The word kaiako means that we are teaching, but we’re also learning. We’re learning off the children, we’re learning off each other and we’re also giving that back and that’s really significant for parents.

“Acknowledging parents as kaiako is a gift to all parents in valuing their role in  the education of all mokopuna.”

Through this PLD kaiako have had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the updated curriculum and to further their knowledge of internal evaluation.

 Park Road Playcentre Pedagogical Leader Kathryn Prescott with Playcentre tamariki.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 16 July 2018

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