Volume 5, Number 1 - May 2017

Parents and children in a leadership role in early childhood: Discussing and adding to learning assemblages

Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum in New Zealand, positions the parent and child as leaders in the teaching-learning process (Ministry of Education [MoE], 1996). This position is supported by socio-cultural pedagogy, which sees learning as taking place in context of the child’s family and expanded through relationships with other adults, children and the environment (Duncan, Te One, Dewe & Te Punga-Jurgens, 2012; Smith, 2013). Parents and whānau, often see the teacher as the expert however and may consequently be unaware of their prominent role in their child’s early education (Whyte, 2016). This creates a dynamic in which the teachers are taking sole responsibility for the teaching-learning process. Meanwhile children are co-constructing story-threads by creating and re-creating spaces of learning on their own account (Scanlan, 2016). Parents pick up on these threads and will contribute their and their child’s ideas to curriculum planning if this takes place before the learning story is written by the teacher (Whyte, 2010; 2016). Hence obtaining a ‘parent-with-a-child-voice’ before the learning story strengthens the parent’s position and sees the parent and their child together in the role of initiators of learning. In this article the potential for learning that opens up with parents and children in a leadership role is explored, drawing on combined insights from two master’s theses (Scanlan; 2016; Whyte, 2016).


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