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.

Licensing Criteria Cover

Part C: Strand 1 - Well-being

The health and well-being of the child are protected and nurtured.

  • Goals
    • Children experience an environment where:

      • Their health is promoted;
      • Their emotional well-being is nurtured;
      • They are kept safe from harm.

      All children have a right to health, to protection from harm and anxiety, and to harmony, consistency, affection, firmness, warmth, and sensitivity. Young children experience transitions from home to service, from service to service, and from service to school. They need as much consistency and continuity of experience as possible in order to develop confidence and trust to explore and to establish a secure foundation of remembered and anticipated people, places, things, and experiences.

      Adults working with children should have a knowledge of Māori definitions of health and wellbeing and an understanding of what these concepts mean in practice. Adults should acknowledge spiritual dimensions and have a concern for how the past, present, and future influence children’s self-esteem and are of prime importance to Māori and Tagata Pasefika families.

  • Relationships of the Strand of Well-being to the Curriculum Principles
    • This strand is based on the principle of Empowerment. Children develop an enhanced sense of self-worth, identity, confidence, and enjoyment as they reach the goals of well-being in a responsive, stable, safe environment which supports the development of self- control and self-esteem. The goals of this strand recognise the principle of Holistic Development in promoting well-being through consistent, warm relationships which connect the various aspects of the child’s world. The strand recognises that Family and Community are important in contributing significantly to children’s well-being. In the same way, the strand of well-being emphasises that through Relationships, children develop trust that their needs will be responded to, and that trust contributes to developing confidence and independence.

  • Adults’ Responsibilities in Management, Organisation, and Practice
    • Policies, procedures, and supervision should ensure that children are kept safe and feel secure within a safe environment, where symptoms of danger or abuse are promptly recognised. Any suspected abuse or harm must be dealt with in association with support agencies and families.

      Daily routines should respond to individual circumstances and needs and should allow for frequent outdoor experiences, regular rest times, and a variety of group and individual interactions, with one- to-one attention from adults every day.

      Frequent communication among all adults who work with children is essential to ensure consistent, reasoned responses to children’s changing needs and behaviours and to share information on health issues such as nutrition and inoculations.

      Adults should anticipate a child’s needs for comfort and should communicate positive feelings in an environment which is calm and friendly and conducive to warm and intimate interactions.

      Adults should build relationships of trust and respect by acknowledging children’s feelings, treating the children as individuals, explaining procedures, taking children’s fears and concerns seriously, and responding promptly to injuries or falls.

      Adults should recognise the important place of spirituality in the development of the whole child, particularly for Māori and Tagata Pasefika families.

      Adults, as well as children, need emotional support, some flexibility in their routines, and the opportunity to share and discuss their experiences in a comfortable setting.

  • Continuity Between Early Childhood Education and School
    • Children moving from early childhood settings to the early years of school are likely to:

      • effectively communicate their immediate needs for rest, drinks, food, and attention and continue to become independent;
      • have established many self-care skills;
      • be able to take meals and snacks with minimal supervision and with some under- standing of healthy foods and healthy surroundings;
      • be increasingly in control of their emotional responses;
      • have some understanding of keeping themselves safe and be able to articulate some questions and concerns;
      • have a range of strategies for getting help for themselves and others.
  • Goal 1
    • Goal 1

      Children experience an environment where their health is promoted.

      Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes

      Children develop:

      • increasing understanding of their bodies and how they function;
      • knowledge about how to keep themselves healthy;
      • self-help and self-care skills for eating, drinking, food preparation, toileting, resting, sleeping, washing, and dressing;
      • positive attitudes towards eating, sleeping, and toileting.

      Questions for reflection


      In what ways are self-help skills in washing and eating being encouraged, and how effective are these approaches?

      In what ways do staffing rosters ensure that feeding, toileting, and nappy-changing routines, and the person responsible for these routines, are familiar to the infants?

      In what ways are individual nutrition needs or preferences catered for appropriately, and how are children given opportunities to help themselves?

      What are the constraints against, and the possibilities for, flexible routines?

      Are the routines flexible enough for the children to foster their own growth and development?

      In what ways do parents and staff collaborate over toilet training, and does this collaboration have effective outcomes for children?

      How do adults or other children respond when children have toileting “accidents”?

      What procedures are followed when children hurt themselves, and do these procedures provide sufficient care?

      On what basis are the menus and snacks for children prepared?

      How are parents encouraged to provide healthy food for children?

      Examples of experiences which help to meet these outcomes

      For infants

      Adults observe and respond to signals of distress, hunger, and tiredness.

      Meticulous attention is paid to hygiene.

      Adults are guided by each infant’s individual rhythms, and this should lead towards some regularity in feeding and sleeping.

      Familiar, relaxed routines for feeding, toileting, and nappy-changing are established and carried out by familiar adults.

      Infants are handled in a calm and caring way.

      For toddlers

      There is a supportive approach to toilet training, using unhurried and familiar routines.

      Sleeping routines are flexible, calm, and positive.

      Toddlers are offered a widening range of foods.

      Self-help in washing and eating is encouraged.

      Adults respond with attention and respect to toddlers’ attempts to communicate their feelings of well-being or discomfort.

      For young children

      Comfortable spaces and opportunities for rest and sleep are provided, with some flexibility about routines.

      Plenty of time is given for children to practise their developing self-help and self-care skills when eating, drinking, toileting, resting, washing, and dressing.

      There is a balance between familiar and unfamiliar food.

      Although young children are increasingly able to wait for attention, they can be confident of ready responses to indications of hunger, pain, and fatigue.

      Toileting skills may still be unreliable, and young children are assisted in ways that do not engender shame or embarrassment.

  • Goal 2
    • Goal 2

      Children experience an environment where their emotional well-being is nurtured.

      Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes

      Children develop:

      • an increasing ability to determine their own actions and make their own choices;
      • a capacity to pay attention, maintain concentration, and be involved;
      • a growing capacity to tolerate and enjoy a moderate degree of change, surprises, uncertainty, and puzzling events;
      • a sense of personal worth, and knowledge that personal worth does not depend on today’s behaviour or ability;
      • an ability to identify their own emotional responses and those of others;
      • confidence and ability to express emotional needs;
      • trust that their emotional needs will be responded to.

      Questions for reflection


      What do adults do when a child is distressed and unsettled?

      How are primary care-giving arrangements managed when one of the adults is absent?

      How are close emotional relationships established with children?

      In what ways are children encouraged to develop trust?

      How are staffing schedules organised adequately to ensure that each child has familiar adults to relate to during the day?

      How does the programme give genuine opportunities for children to make choices and develop independence?

      Examples of experiences which help to meet these outcomes

      For infants

      There are one-to-one interactions which are intimate and sociable.

      The infant is not exposed to too many new faces or situations.

      The environment is predictable and dependable.

      Time and opportunity are provided for the infant and familiar adults to build a trusting and loving relationship together.

      There is help and encouragement for infants to feel increasingly competent.

      For toddlers

      There are opportunities for toddlers to be independent while knowing that comfort, emotional security, and familiar adults are available.

      Toddlers who are trying to do things for themselves or for other children are encouraged and supported.

      Adults accept a wide and conflicting range of feelings from toddlers.

      Toddlers are given opportunities to make choices, and their decisions are respected.

      Toddlers are helped to resolve conflicts and move on to new challenges.

      For young children

      Children are supported in expressing, articulating, and resolving a range of emotions.

      The environment is stimulating and acknowledges that the comfort “threshold” is different for each child.

      The programme provides a balance between events and activities that are predictable and certain and those that provide moderate surprise and uncertainty.

      Young children have a widening range of opportunities for independence, choice, and autonomy.

      Adults help young children to understand and accept necessary limits, without anxiety or fear.

  • Goal 3
    • Goal 3

      Children experience an environment where they are kept safe from harm.

      Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Skills, and Attitudes

      Children develop:

      • increasing knowledge about how to keep themselves safe from harm;
      • confidence that they can participate and take risks without fear of harm;
      • ability and confidence to express their fears openly;
      • trust that their fears will be taken seriously;
      • a sense of responsibility for their own well-being and that of others;
      • an increasing sense of responsibility for protecting others from injury and from physical and emotional abuse;
      • respect for rules about harming others and the environment and an understanding of the reasons for such rules.

      Questions for reflection


      What are the procedures for ensuring that the environment is safe and clean, and how well do the procedures achieve this aim?

      What kinds of emergency drills are there, how often are they reviewed, and how suitable are they?

      How are children helped to understand and avoid hazards, and how effective are these approaches?

      In what ways does the programme provide positive discussion of rules and safety?

      In what ways does the programme minimise the possibility of child abuse occurring in the centre or home, and what procedures are in place to deal with issues of harm or abuse?

      Examples of experiences which help to meet these outcomes

      For infants

      Playthings and surfaces are kept clean throughout the day, and attention is paid to avoiding cross-infection.

      Infants are closely supervised at all times when they have access to food and drink.

      Quick attention is given to any changes in an infant’s temperature, health, or usual behaviour.

      There is vigilant supervision to protect infants from potential hazards in the environment, for example, from insects, litter, or over-exposure to sun.

      Infants are protected from rough handling or accidents with older children.

      For toddlers

      Adults are alert to possible hazards and vigilant over what is accessible, can be swallowed, or can be climbed on, and toddlers are encouraged to recognise genuine hazards.

      The environment is challenging but not hazardous to toddlers.

      Toddlers are protected from each other, for example, from behaviour such as biting or hitting.

      Toddlers are promptly supported, but not overprotected, when they fall over.

      Adults raise toddlers’ awareness about what is safe and what is harmful and the probable consequences of certain actions.

      For young children

      Young children have opportunities to develop self-care skills and to protect themselves from harm within secure and safe limits and at their own level.

      Efforts to protect others from harm, within safe limits, are encouraged.

      Rules about harming others and the environment are natural topics of conversation and negotiation with adults, so that children become aware of them.

      Adults support children positively in challenges and new endeavours they want to undertake.