This essay will discuss the importance of partnership with parents/whanau, providing responsive relationships and interactions with children and biculturalism on society. Research shows that children who attend an early childhood centre providing care of high quality succeeded more at school, stayed at school longer and kept achieving more in their early adult years. They grew up with a sense of belonging within their community and society and had the skills needed to take control of their own lives (Beaver, Brewster, Jones, Keene, Neaum, & Tallach, 2001).
1. Early childhood centres play an important role in helping families function effectively. They combine their role of supporting families while encouraging children’s development in partnership with parents. Each child, each family is unique. In an early childhood centre each one of the children is unique as well as their family. Research shows us that those parents, through parental involvement early on in a child’s education that they are more likely to maintain this through all their educational years (Beaver et al. , 2001).
Effective communication is one of the most important principles when forming partnerships with parents. Parents are the most knowledgeable when it comes to their child and if they feel they can share this with staff of the early childhood centre the child will benefit from this (Beaver et al. , 2001). Throughout our lives we know it is hard to part from people we love and some parents find it hard to leave their child in a centre. We therefore need to be sensitive to this issue and work in partnership with parents and help them to build on what they want for their child.
Arthur, Beecher, Death, Dockett & Farmer (2001) state that “Early childhood educators should recognise that every setting is a source of learning for young children, with the home acknowledged as a particularly powerful influence” (p. 11). 2. Children need to experience reciprocal and responsive relationships to develop and learn. Infants are very dependent and require emotional security to develop an attachment with another person other than their parent(s).
A quality learning environment is one where teachers respect each child individually, and are positive, warm, supporting and encourage good self confidence, and initiate meaningful interactions with children. It is essential to create an environment where each child feels appreciated and valued. It is through forming these important adult: child relationships that they will feel a sense of their own identity and develop positive self worth. Nurturing relationships are developed when positive interactions occur.
The constant talk with infants, encouraging eye contact and being held in a calm and caring way, active listening, positive language and noticing signs/gestures are some ways that infants develop trust and form a bond with us. The Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998 state – “Every child is given positive guidance, using praise and encouragement, and avoiding blame, harsh language, and belittling or degrading responses” (Ministry of Education [MoE] , 1998, p. 22). Early childhood teachers need to ensure care giving routines are unhurried, meaningful and a peaceful experience.
Take the time to sing songs, read books, follow their interests and extend them, be interested in what they are doing, keep conversations open, enrich their language, allow them to explore and discover, play with them and alongside them and allow yourself to be another person in their lives that interact and are responsive to them. If an infant is crying and they are responded to in a calm and gentle way, treated in the reliable and respected manner they are entitled to they will build a positive image of themselves. Centre policies should reflect this.
3. It is important for all New Zealanders and people living in New Zealand to be aware of, and sensitive to the bicultural nature of New Zealand society which consists of pakehas and the indigenous people – the Maori – who were here some hundred years before the arrival of Europeans. We need to respect and understand the Treaty of Waitangi which is the formal agreement between the Maori and the British Government which gave the latter the right to establish settlement and a system of British Government subject to certain rights being assured to the Maori.
A bicultural perspective promotes the value of both cultures. We as a society need to understand and respect Maori views on child development and the role of the family. In Quality in Action Te Mahi Whai Hua, Implementing the Revised Statement of Desirable Objectives and Practices in New Zealand Early Childhood Services it says teachers need “to understand how whanau values affect behaviour and influence the ability of children and adults to engage in meaningful purposeful relationships” (Ministry of Education [MoE], 1998, p.
18). We must enable Maori children and their families to be active in their community which will allow their children to learn and grow and develop a strong sense of self-worth. Te reo Maori is a living and relevant language and very significant to Maori. We need to assure Maori families that their culture, beliefs and practices are fully valued, appreciated and supported. We can learn a lot from these and implement them into the curriculum. Early childhood services play an integral part in society.
They are an extension of home for children and their parents/whanau therefore we need to consider the cultural heritage of Maori and provide learning experiences for the children that reflect their culture. It is a requirement of the Education (Early Childhood Centres) Regulations 1998 that state – “Encourage children to become and remain confident in their own culture and to develop an understanding of and respect for other cultures of Aotearoa/New Zealand” (MoE, p. 21).