Seeing is believing – Visual curriculum supports transition to school

Issue: Volume 99, Number 4

Posted: 12 March 2020
Reference #: 1HA6RZ

A collaborative visual curriculum produced by the Pukekohe Kāhui Ako to support the transition to primary school for tamariki and their whānau has produced some interesting – and unexpected – outcomes.

At the end of 2019, the early learning network of the Pukekohe Kāhui Ako invited their local new entrant teachers to a hui, where they presented the visual curriculum as a slideshow of local photographs representing the early learning outcomes(external link) of the early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki, in practice.

“The feedback was instant and warm, with one teacher saying: ‘If that’s what the curriculum looks like in our ECE, then our tamariki are in good hands’,” says Nikki Tarapa, ECE network lead and ECE representative to the Kāhui Ako.

The visual curriculum was initially developed to support smooth transitions between local early learning services and schools.

“One of the Kāhui Ako’s goals is around developing a coherent educational pathway for tamariki and their whānau,” explains Nikki.

“The ECE network talked about how to share information about children’s learning with whānau and felt visual representations of Te Whāriki would be most powerful, especially if those visuals featured local tamariki and their whānau engaging in easily recognisable, curriculum-based learning experiences.”

Pukekohe’s kindergartens and early learning centres were asked to contribute photographs that illustrated all of the learning outcomes from across the five strands of Te Whāriki. The early learning resource(external link) has just gone live and Nikki says the Kāhui Ako primary schools are planning to develop a similar resource for other key transition points in the education pathway.

“When we share our visual curriculum with whānau, we hope it’s really powerful, especially when they recognise themselves or people they know,” she says.

Removing barriers to connection

Nikki hopes the new resource will remove some of the fear of the unknown, so that whānau can develop more confidence around what the curriculum can look like for their tamariki and what they can expect from a quality early learning service.  

“I hope in time that whānau will expect to fully know, understand and share what learning looks and feels like in our early learning services and primary schools, and can make comfortable, informed decisions about where their tamariki will go.

“It’s warming up that transition process so that instead of jumping in the deep end, whānau can wade into the transition process sure-footed,” Nikki explains.

Dispelling myths

Nikki says it was ‘a huge and wonderful surprise’ that the collaborative visual curriculum helped to dispel myths about what happens in early learning services among their new entrant teacher colleagues. Early learning teachers learned that primary schools also value learning through play and the importance of dispositions which support learning.

“It has been one of the most eye-opening and groundbreaking steps in terms of developing a close, trusting and respectful relationship with our new entrant colleagues.”

Pre-school to big school event

A collaborative Pre-school to Big School event held earlier this month has grown out of the fast-growing relationship between Pukekohe’s early learning and new entrant teachers. More than 300 four-year-old tamariki, whānau, kaiako, new entrant teachers and principals attended the event which was held at Pukekohe’s covered netball courts.

“Every pre-school and primary school involved facilitated one fun activity – such as yoga, bubbles, play dough, story-telling and music. While tamariki engaged in supervised experiences, whānau were able to meet the new entrant teacher of the class their child is going to, the principal and some of the children currently in the class. They began developing those connections and relationships which support a smooth transition in a fun and inclusive setting,” says Nikki.

Making the magic happen

Nikki says building effective relationships across sectors has been greatly assisted by the inclusion of early learning representation at Kāhui Ako governance level.

“Our Kāhui Ako has always welcomed and valued our contributions as equal partners in the decision-making process,” she says.

“The regular networking that our ECEs have done has removed the barriers in what is essentially a competitive marketplace. We are all competing for enrolments and funding, but the thing that supersedes profit and money, is our shared love for tamariki and their whānau. 

“We are building a culture that shows an increased willingness to collaborate and share with each other, unifying around the things we have in common.”

Connected curricula

The development of the visual curriculum resource by Pukekohe Kāhui Ako reflects the approach outlined in Te Whāriki for supporting transitions to school. Kaiako are encouraged to recognise and show where and how children’s early learning connects with the key competencies, values and learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. At the same time new entrant teachers will be aware of the principles and strands of Te Whāriki and deliberately build on the foundations that have already been laid. 

There are close parallels between Te Whāriki and The New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa. In both, learning is seen to take place in the space between what the educational environment offers and the knowledge and experiences that children bring with them. The two curriculums are based on similar principles and have similar approaches to valued learning. Like Te Whāriki’s weaving of principles and strands, The New Zealand Curriculum views the curriculum as a weaving together of different elements.

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BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 11:48 am, 12 March 2020

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