Many early childhood educators realise the importance of supporting children to be conscious of their natural environment. Kaiako/Teachers will have their own strategies to provide a learning culture where children develop their working theories to take care of nature through their own creativity and play. Discussions can also be based around a responsibility that we all have to preserve and maintain the environment around us. From a Māori perspective, this involves the concept of Kaitiakitanga.

One of the theoretical principles of Tikanga, the Māori way of doing things, is whanaungatanga. In this musing, I look at how this perspective can be identified in an early childhood setting.

The online Māori dictionary defines “whanaungatanga” as: (noun) relationship, kinship, sense of family connection - a relationship through shared experiences and working together which provides people with a sense of belonging. It develops as a result of kinship rights and obligations, which also serve to strengthen each member of the kin group.

Early childhood establishments in New Zealand tend to have different leadership models. Many of these are based around a hierarchical model, where there is possibly a centre manager, assistant centre manager, head teachers in each room, assistant head teachers, and the rest of the teachers down the line. “The services available are very diverse. They have a wide range of ownership and governance structures as well as different philosophies and operating models” (Ministry of Education, p. 8, 2017).

Our early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki states that learning dispositions have been identified as valuable to support lifelong learning. Resilience is a disposition that is mentioned in the curriculum. Evidence of learning and development is demonstrated when children show a “Capacity for self-regulation and resilience in the face of challenges” (Ministry of Education, p. 27, 2017). So, the question is, how do we as kaiako role model resilience? 

I recently viewed a ‘Te Whāriki Early Childhood Curriculum Introductory Workshop’ webinar to get a better understanding of the new document launched on 13 April 2017. I had been following a number of forum comments prior to the launch of the revised and updated curriculum, where there had been a few voices of dissent because the general opinion was that the consultation process was rushed. The webinar itself was dull in presentation which was of no help at all.