Te Whāriki

Te Whāriki is the Ministry of Education's early childhood curriculum policy statement.

It is a framework for providing tamariki (children's) early learning and development within a sociocultural context.

It emphasises the learning partnership between kaiako (teachers), parents, and whānau/families. Kaiako (teachers) weave an holistic curriculum in response to tamariki (children's) learning and development in the early childhood setting and the wider context of the child's world.

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Part A: The Purpose and Structure of the Document

The purpose of this document is to provide a curriculum framework that will form the basis for consistent curriculum and programmes in chartered early childhood education services. This curriculum applies to all children in chartered early childhood education settings. It sets out the principles, strands, and goals which are distinctively appropriate for the early childhood years, and provides examples of the links between early childhood education and the school years.

The term “curriculum” is used in this document to describe the sum total of the experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development.

These experiences, activities, and events may be based on forward planning or may evolve in response to a particular situation.

The document is divided into four sections. It is important, however, that it is read and used as an integrated whole. The principles, strands, and goals are common to all early childhood services. The ways in which they are put into practice, however, may differ from service to service.

The English and Māori texts parallel and complement each other. The Māori curriculum is designed specifically to provide a basis for appropriate practice in ngā kōhanga reo. It is also applicable within other Māori immersion programmes. The Māori curriculum is an integral part of the document and provides a basis for bicultural early childhood education in New Zealand.

Part A of this document describes the curriculum whāriki and the early childhood context in New Zealand. Part A outlines the importance of meeting the needs of specific groups, such as children with special needs and those in Tagata Pasefika early childhood centres. It also outlines the background to the development of this curriculum.

There is a summary of the principles, strands, and goals of the curriculum in Part A. These are further developed in Part C. Part A includes some indicators of broad stages in children’s learning and development, and identifies processes of planning, evaluation, and assessment and the ways in which these are related to the principles of the curriculum.

Part B establishes the particular emphasis for curriculum in ngā kōhanga reo. This section will also be of use to other Māori immersion services.

Part C expands on the principles, strands, and goals and forms the framework for implementation. The four key principles are described. The strands are explained, both in general terms and in how they relate to the principles of the early childhood curriculum. Implications for adult responsibilities for management, organisation, and practice in early childhood settings are set out for each strand. Some of the expectations for children as they move from early childhood settings to school are also described.

Each strand has associated goals, which in turn have specific learning outcomes. These learning outcomes are identified in Part C. Examples of experiences that will help to meet the needs of, and achieve the necessary learning outcomes for, infants, toddlers, and young children are suggested in this part. These examples are intended to promote discussion and assist services in developing programmes that are clearly related to the principles, strands, and goals of the curriculum. Examples of reflective questions designed specifically for each goal provide a further basis for discussion. Supporting resources will provide further assistance in planning, evaluation, assessment, and implementation.

Part D demonstrates the links each strand has with the essential skills and essential learning areas of The New Zealand Curriculum Framework for schools. Part D is now out of date and is not part of this electronic copy of Te Whāriki. 

Terms used with specific meanings in this document are defined in the glossary.