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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Glossary of terms as used in this curriculum

Adult: any person beyond school leaving age who may be involved in an early childhood setting. This could include whānau, parents, extended family, staff members, supervisors, child care workers, teachers, kaiako, kaiawhina, specialists, and caregivers.

Āiga: (Samoan – used as a representative term) members of an extended family and its supporting network who form a context for the care and guidance of a child.

Assessment: the process of obtaining, and interpreting, information that describes a child’s achievements and competence. The purpose of assessment is to provide pertinent information to contribute to improving learning opportunities for children.

Caregiver: an adult who cares for children, particularly in a home-based programme.

Cognition: knowing and thinking.

Contribution: playing a part in a common effort.

Culture: shared understandings and a shared worldview, often expressed in accepted lifestyles and traditions. Joan Metge, in her book, Te kohao o te ngira: culture and learning (Learning Media, Wellington, 1990) defines the term as “a system of symbols and meanings, in terms of which a particular group of people make sense of their worlds, communicate with each other, and plan and live their lives.” Culture is not a synonym for ethnicity.

Curriculum: the sum total of the experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster learning and development.

Empowerment: giving power or authority that enables a person to take an action or role.

Enable: to supply a person with the means to carry out an action or fulfil a role.

Evaluation: the process of using assessment information and other data to review the quality and effectiveness of programmes, in order to make decisions about change.

Holistic: tending, as in nature, to form a unity made up of other “wholes”, where the new unity is more than the sum of the parts, and in which each element affects, and is affected by, each other element.

Individual Development Plan or Individual Education Plan (IDP/IEP): a plan that forms the basis for programmes designed specifically for an individual child who, in order to benefit from their learning environment, requires resources alternative or additional to those usually available.

Māori immersion programmes: programmes, especially those in kōhanga reo, which aim to promote and nurture Māori language and culture.

Primary caregiving: a staffing arrangement, particularly suitable for infants and toddlers, in which one staff member has primary responsibility for a small group of children. The rationale for primary caregiving is that it facilitates the attachment of very young children to one adult.

Reciprocal: expressing mutual, complementary actions, in which each party returns a corresponding act or quality to the other.

Rituals: procedures that are followed consistently, especially when greeting, saying goodbye, and at mealtimes.

Settings: places where people can interact with each other, for example home, centre, play area.

Tagata Pasefika: the people of the Pacific Island nations. This term refers here to programmes for children in Pacific Islands early childhood centres.

Well-being: a state of physical, social, or emotional comfort, progress, and sound condition.

Whānau: members of an extended family and its supporting network who form a context for the care and guidance of a child.

Young child: a child between approximately 3 and 5 years of age. This term is used in preference to the more traditional term “preschooler”, which implies that the curriculum for this age group takes its direction from school. “Young child” is used in this document to distinguish this developmental stage from infants and toddlers. Important characteristics of each stage are discussed in Part A.