Family and community | Whānau tangata

Volume 7, Number 2 – October 2022

Editorial

Drawing on one of the principles of Te Whāriki for its inspiration, He Kupu sought contributions that highlighted the connectedness of the Family and Community | Whānau Tangata to the early childhood sector. Testifying to the responsiveness of the early childhood sector to their communities, many of the articles in this issue provide insight into how kaiako are working in authentic partnerships to develop a deep sense of belonging with children and whānau. Encompassing a wide spread of early childhood settings, this issue highlights the significant role of parents and the community to the sector and considers good practices that may further consolidate those relationships.

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Practitioner Research

I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the gifts, talents and strengths of my family, tribe and ancestors.

Aotearoa, New Zealand’s national early childhood curriculum, Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mō ngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early Childhood Curriculum (Ministry of Education [MoE], 2017), is underpinned by sociocultural perspectives and highlights the importance of kaiako partnerships with whānau and the local learning community through its principle of Whānau Tangata – Family & Community. Much literature focuses on the importance and benefits of building these partnerships with whānau as part of the curriculum and programme design, and in supporting the identity, sense of belonging and wellbeing of both tamariki and whānau. This article reflects on stories of whānau-kaiako partnerships in building a localised curriculum. Chelsea is a lead kaiako at Lil’ Seeds, a small 0-3 years infant and toddler setting in West Auckland with a passion for working in partnership with parents to support positive experiences in the early years and a strong sense of whanaungatanga/relationships in the learning community. Julia, a lecturer with New Zealand Tertiary College (NZTC), has a personal connection to this setting, as her son Louie attended for two years, before transitioning to the sister centre, Wilde Meadows, in Oratia. Together, Chelsea and Julia reflect on how whānau, child and kaiako interests and identity can contribute to meaningful, authentic, localised curriculum.

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In early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand, parental belonging is a fundamental contributing factor to home-centre partnership, promoting quality outcomes for tamariki (Education Review Office, 2016; Treweek et al., 2020). In this article, the author discusses what belonging means for a Burmese refugee family who have lived in Aotearoa New Zealand for 10 years, with three of their children who have attended early childhood education and care centres. The parents’ ideas were elicited through an interview structured according to Allen et al.’s (2021) framework of belonging that focuses on four key components which are competencies, opportunities, motivations and perceptions. The author found that while language was recognised as a limitation, the family’s overall sense of belonging was supported by kaiako who were inclusive and welcoming, treating them as equals in the centre. However, there is a lingering tension between the parents’ aspirations for their children’s education and teachers’ perceptions, which calls for a stronger mutual understanding on cultural perspectives of education and care. Recommendations for teaching practice are provided for early childhood practitioners to support their work with families from refugee backgrounds.

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Peer Reviewed

A crucial task for refugee families and children who settle in Aotearoa New Zealand is to develop a sense of belonging in that place, time and environment. Belonging is a basic human need. It is a driving force for learning how to be and behave in a new setting and a springboard for participation (Guo & Dalli, 2016; Sumsion & Wong, 2011). As a concept, ‘belonging’ is acknowledged to be multifaceted, culturally-determined, and complex. This article focuses on phase two of the Refugee families in early childhood education: Constructing pathways to belonging research project, which involved trialling and evaluating, with early childhood services, the pōwhiri (Māori ceremony of welcome) framing, developed in phase one of the research. The framing offers concepts to enable understanding of the phases and processes for refugee and immigrant families to develop a sense of bicultural belonging in Aotearoa New Zealand. Pōwhiri is the traditional Māori ceremony of welcome or ritual of encounter, performed across Aotearoa New Zealand, by the host people to welcome visitors to their region. Pōwhiri is explained in this article as a physical process following standard phases, with each phase including metaphorical understandings. .

Playcentre is an important part of the landscape of early childhood education in New Zealand. It has the potential to positively change parents’ attitudes towards parenting, increase their engagement in their children’s learning, and increase their sense of self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. Particularly in rural settings, Playcentres provide valuable social support and relief from isolation, promoting communities and building social capital. This article is based on research carried out with rural Playcentre parents-as-educators in 2020, highlighting the nexus between rurality and parent-led early childhood education: the common challenges, strengths, and opportunities (James, 2020). A survey of rural Playcentre parents from the Far North to Southland explored their beliefs, experiences and perceptions, reinforcing the important place of Playcentre in rural settings in reducing isolation, providing community, and developing friendships for both parents and children.

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Fathers' participation in Early Childhood Education (ECE) has been recognised to positively influence young children's and their families' wellbeing (Rollè et al., 2019, White et al., 2011). This study examined the influence of a father-focused program designed to increase their participation in the early childhood education setting where their child is learning. Four early childhood centres agreed to participate in the research. Twelve fathers of the centre's children volunteered to participate in the program that aimed to support fathers' interaction with early childhood centres. The findings suggested that such a father-focused program in ECE centres may improve fathers' overall participation in early childhood centres and contribute to enhanced father interaction with centres. The results are discussed within a parental partnership model, and the practical implications of the findings are highlighted.

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Indo-Fijian early childhood teachers who are newcomers in New Zealand early childhood settings have unique challenges in becoming established early childhood teachers. Findings from a recent master’s research project (Kumar, 2022) highlight the challenges as well as the affordances experienced in becoming established early childhood teachers. In the main, when the Indo-Fijian teachers felt supported by other experienced teachers and were encouraged to use their culturally and linguistically diverse [CALD] knowledge, their feelings of belonging were enhanced. When culturally diverse children and families join early childhood settings, they may also encounter cultural barriers to understanding the dominant early childhood culture. Drawing on the theoretical perspective of a community of practice (CoP), this article describes how Indo-Fijian early childhood education teachers can enact the role of cultural brokers for Indo-Fijian children and families. The implications of this broker role will also extend to other CALD teachers supporting children and families from similar cultural and linguistic backgrounds in the early childhood education settings.

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Book Reviews

Drawing on research from a four-year study, Fuapepe Rimoni, Ali Glasgow, and Robin Averill (2022) in Pacific educators speak: Valuing our values, share insights into perspectives gifted by over 30 educators from all educational sectors in Aotearoa New Zealand. The excerpts shared were gained from face-to-face interviews; talanoa-style discussions that were transcribed and recorded to capture an understanding of each participant’s perspective of values shared by Pacific people. These contributions are skillfully presented across 11 chapters beginning with an introduction into the authors’ research, which includes a reflection of Pacific voices in education and establishes a link to the ‘Pacific Success Compass’ from Tapasā: Cultural competencies framework for teachers of Pacific learners (Ministry of Education, 2019, p. 4). The nine central values of the Pacific Success Compass (belonging, family, love, service, spirituality, reciprocal relationships, respect, leadership and inclusion) are presented in a ‘Pacific Values Compass’. The perspectives and practice of each value is presented by Values Navigators, which is the term given by the researchers to the participants that have examined each value. Each Values Navigator adds meaning to the various ways of knowing, being, and doing for Pacific people. To complement each value, each chapter has been summarised by the authors to highlight key themes from the Values Navigators. This prompts further in-depth reflection and practice for the reader with additional reading links, discussion questions and suggestions for actions to nurture the value in their own practice. The concluding chapter acts as a call for action for educators to promote the wellbeing of Pacific children and their families through engaging in a consistent and value-led learning environment that is “… uplifting, comfortable, and productive for Pacific peoples and are places where they can be themselves” (Rimoni et al., 2022, p. 165).

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Supporting Positive Behaviour in Early Childhood Settings and Primary Schools makes it clear within the first few pages that this is not a book with quick fixes or how-to guides when it comes to promoting positive behaviour in children. Instead, throughout all 10 chapters, the reader is reminded to be reflective in their practice, further supported by the reflection boxes interspersed throughout each chapter. It is through this regular reflection, O’Toole and Hayes postulate that those within the education sector (and beyond) will develop the skills to establish appropriate responses to behaviour and importantly, have a deeper understanding of the what and why behind actions taken to support positive behaviour based on theoretical perspectives. For the purpose of this review, the reader is assumed to be an educator, however this book is presented in a way that can be accessible to all looking to understand supporting positive behaviour.

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Developing a loving pedagogy in the early years: How love fits with professional practice explores the perceived uneasiness, fears and tensions of love in early childhood settings. In this book, the author discusses the issues and obstacles that educators may face in actioning a loving pedagogy and provides guidance to kaiako to reflect upon what a loving pedagogy might look like in their settings.

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Contributors

Amir Sadeghi, Elise James,Julia Holdom, Dr Karyn Aspden, Keshni Kumar, Lesley Rameka, Linda Mitchell, Parisa Tadi, Raella Kahuroa, Ruth Ham, Shu-Yen Law

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