At Kidz Unlimited our learning programme is based on Te Whariki – the New Zealand Early Childhood Education Curriculum. The strands, principles and learning outcomes seek to encourage children, “to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society” (Ministry of Education, 2017. Pg5)
Alongside the acquisition of knowledge, skills and attitudes, we support and encourage the children to develop learning dispositions and working theories*. Te Whariki states that “dispositions are important and have been identified as valuable for supporting lifelong learning”. Dispositions are encouraged rather than taught. To encourage robust dispositions to reason, investigate and collaborate, children will be immersed in an environment where people discuss rules, are fair, explore questions about how things work, and help each other. The children will participate and see these activities happening every day at Kidz Unlimited.
As an example, in practice we can support children to develop learning dispositions through the language we use as we support our children in their play, discovery and learning. When we use language such as “I can see that you are being brave walking up that slide” or I like how you are listening to your friend” then we are acknowledging children’s behaviour or “disposition” and reaffirming their actions. Ensuring that children hear what is acceptable as opposed to what is not. This is powerful language for a child to hear from an adult and in doing so they gain confidence to explore, participate and play.
All children are growing up in a world that is forever changing and we are preparing children for jobs that haven’t been invented yet. We can help prepare children to face these challenges and changes by ensuring that they have skills to cope and a strong foundation of a, lifelong love of learning. This comes from how we respond to children at play, maximising opportunities for children to practice using positive learning dispositions. Learning dispositions are characteristics or attitudes to learning and are about children learning how to learn rather than what to learn.
There are many different dispositions but 5 are mainly associated with Te Whariki. They include:
Courage and curiosity (taking an interest) being brave, exploring, trying, being curious Trust and playfulness (Being involved) being trustworthy, respectfulness, being playful, creating your own open-ended play, being imaginative, feeling comfortable and a sense of belonging
Perseverance (persisting with difficulty, challenge and uncertainty) not giving up, concentrating, working hard
Confidence (Expressing a point of view or feeling) communicating verbally and non-verbally, listening to others, making friends, “I hear you”, acknowledging feelings, thoughts and ideas as being valid, asking for help
Responsibility (Taking responsibility) for justice and fairness and the disposition to take on another point of view, turn taking and sharing, kindness, empathy, understanding actions and consequences, being responsible, helping out and helping others
Some of the other learning dispositions include reciprocity, creativity, imagination and resilience.
We believe that when children see themselves as someone who tries new things (Courage), keeps going when it is hard (Perseverance), knows when to stop and ask for help (Confidence), learns from making mistakes (Responsibility) and have caring teachers involved in their learning (Trust), are children who will be successful in an unknown world.
All of the learning stories that we write for your child will identify the dispositions that they are developing throughout their time at the centre.
Te Whariki summarises “dispositions to learn develop when children are immersed in an environment that is characterised by well-being and trust, belonging and purposeful activity, contributing and collaborating, communicating and representing and exploring and guided participation”
*Working theories are the evolving ideas and understandings that children develop as they use their existing knowledge to try to make sense of new experiences. Te Whariki He Whariki matauranga mo nga mokopuna o Aotearoa Early Childhood Curriculum 2017