The final post

Our Early Years blog is on the move and is now part of the CORE Education blog.  The CORE Education blog contains a range of information relevant to education, including early childhood.  Check it out at  

Thanks to all our readers for your comments and support.  We will see you over at The CORE Education Blog!

An Agenda for Amazing Children – Consultation Process


A few weeks ago, the ECE Taskforce released their final report – An Agenda for Amazing Children.  This report confirms that there are sound reasons for leadership in funding ECE  noting that "investing in early childhood education can be thought of as one of the most effective uses of taxpayer funds" (p. 28).  

One of the most important findings from the report, and it is not a new finding, is the issue of quality – high quality early childhood education services provide the best outcomes for children.  The report recommends ways in which quality in early childhood can be lifted so there is less variance across services.

The Government has now opened an eight-week consultation process.  We have until the 8 August 2011 to submit our views on Taskforce report so that these can be considered along with the recommedations of the report.  Find out more about how you can submit your thoughts on the report to the Ministry of Education.  

It is important to have our say – it may make a difference to the future of early childhood education, and more importantly, to the children of Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Posted by:  Tara

New issue of ecARTnz Journal

The fourth issue of ecARTnz, a New Zealand e-journal focused on the visual arts is now available. If you would like to receive a copy, send an email to OR download as a PDF by clicking here.

This issue examines different ways teachers have used art galleries and exhibitions successfully to enrich their visual art programmes. Also included in this issue is a contribution from Dr David Bell, a senior lecturer at Otago University College of Education. His article identifies successful teaching strategies that can be used with young children in the gallery setting to enhance their learning.

Do you have a PLN?

A few years ago TwitterGoogle Reader and online communities were concepts I hadn’t paid much attention to.  Now they are an essential part of my world.  What’s changed? Why have they become so valuable?

These applications connect me to learning; they form part of my PLN (personal learning network).  This network is a collection of individuals’ ideas, links and knowledge that they share freely.  It is personal – I tailor it, selecting who and what topics I will follow.  It connects me to experts in the field – both known and unknown – all with amazing abilities to share.  From these people I learn more about teaching and education, about reflection, about the latest applications and other topics that I am interested in.  My PLN challenges me to think and consider aspects that I may never have otherwise.  It gives me opportunity to contribute and exchange ideas through my blog, twitter account and online communities.  It’s exciting to have such access to a range of rich content.

If you haven’t tried it out and want to give it a go, start out by subscribing to a blog of someone who inspires you or follow them on twitter.   Add people as you ‘find’ them and before you know it, you will have a PLN that supports you.  ECE Online is a good place to start online networking!

My challenge to you is to explore and see what PLN you might build.  If you already have a PLN, please post a comment and share some of your favourites with us.

Posted by Tara

Image credit:  Henkster

If we ever needed proof that what we do makes a difference to children…

Police car and AmbulanceWith the Christchurch earthquake still fresh in everybody’s minds, children at many EC centres are playing ‘disaster’ games. I was recently in a centre where this was happening, and teachers were supporting children to problem-solve as part of their scenarios. As part of this problem-solving the centre had been visited by the local Ambulance, Police and Fire Service. They had also gone to see the emergency services at their bases. It was clear to me when observing the children’s play that they were using their (very extensive) knowledge about how to deal with an emergency and that they understood that in some situations they need to help each other.

At group sharing time later in the morning, one of the boys told of a situation at home on the weekend, where his Mum was being hurt by her partner. He had dialled 111, told the Police what was happening, and then taken his younger sibling outside to wait for them. This boy had only just turned four.
The teachers commented that for many children, their centre is the safest place and that they see their role as supporting children to cope in a wide range of situations. Teachers also understood that there are social service agencies involved with this family, and that the two children who attend need support, love, information and clear boundaries as they work through the turmoil in their lives.
When you see this kind of dramatic play happening how are you supporting them to manage should they be involved in a real-life emergency?

Written by Elaine Newton, Early Years Facilitator, Coromandel/Hauraki.

Brain Day 2011

Last Saturday I took the opportunity to hear a lecture entitled ‘The growing brain: what goes on in your children’s head’ at Brain Day 2011. It was a very lively and accessible talk given by Associate Professor Karen Waldie a developmental cognitive neuroscientist from Auckland University’s Centre for Brain Research.

Karen had some really important messages for teachers yet very few teachers were in the large audience. This in itself deserves reflection. I wonder if the organisers thought to send their publicity to early childhood centres and, if they had done so, whether teachers would have seen this day as particularly relevant to them.  Teachers tend to look to their own when it comes to professional development yet Karen Waldie was a good reminder of why this is limiting.

Here are some of the messages I took from this lecture.

  • Just 20 years ago it was believed that children were born with all the brain cells they would ever have.
  • It is now known that the birth of new brain cells can happen throughout life and is triggered by positive lifestyles.
  • From an early age – soon after birth – there is also a process of progressive pruning of unwanted brain cells. This is the way the environment influences cerebral growth. It’s the old adage  ‘use it or lose it’.
  • The two most important factors in achieving emotionally, cognitively, and physically healthy brains are:
  • encouraging the development of resilience
  • having at least one supportive relationship (parent or other).

Implications for practice?

  • Many of us trained before it was known that the brain can go on expanding physically during life. How is this newer understanding reflected in our philosophy and practice?
  • If we want socially, cognitively and emotionally adept communities in the future we better make rich and positive environments the foundation of our programmes every day.
  • We still have some children being isolated, ostracised or made to feel worthless by teachers. Would this change if all teachers, every day, worked from the premise that they might be that one supportive relationship in a child’s life?

Food for thought don’t you think?

Have you joined ECE Online?

ECE Online is a community hosted by CORE Education, it is funded, in part, by the Ministry of Education as part of the new suite of Professional Development options.  It is open for everyone to access, read and contribute to so that a wealth a resources is built for early childhood education.

Already there are Early Childhood Teachers throughout New Zealand joining this community.  You are most welcome to read, share and contribute to the resources and discussions.  A lively discussion has recently begun around Literacy in Early Childhood and I encourage you to participate and add your thoughts and reflections.

Registering is easy and the opportunity to delve into professional development from the comfort of your own centre (or home!) can’t be missed.   Simply head to ECE Online and click on Register.   Encourage other team members to register too and work together to build our NZ ECE community.  Look forward to seeing you there!

Posted by Tania Coutts – Early Years Facilitator – Northland

Helping families/whānau and children to cope with trauma and grief after the earthquake

After the appalling earthquake in Christchurch on 22nd February, parents and teachers will have the role of reassuring and working with children who have suffered trauma. Sadly, these teachers and parents may already be coping with their own fears and feelings resulting from the ongoing stress of aftershocks and, the trauma of this most recent earthquake. Whānau and teachers will be looking for ways that they can support young people. For some children, recovery is likely to be a complex process that will take varying periods of time.
Where to go for advice
The Ministry of Education provides tips and advice about the importance of regular and ‘normal’ routines and ways of helping children to gain a sense of control over their fears. There are down-loadable resources available that will be helpful to teachers and parents who are supporting children who maybe unsettled and upset. Making these available to both teachers and parents may be one powerful way that you can support children and their families. In addition The Mental Health Foundation, Ministry of Health and the Royal New Zealand Air Force have useful information on their websites. Links for all of these are at the bottom of the page. The psychologist Nigel Latta was interviewed on TV1 in the days after the ‘quake. He had some very practical suggestions to help adults who are dealing with their own and their children’s reactions to this event.
Helping children with their fears and memories
This article in the NZ Herald, written after the September earthquake, ‘Parents call for help to comfort kids terrified by Christchurch earthquake’ provides useful advice for helping children who are struggling with memories and feelings after the earthquake: Clinical psychologist Sarb Johal explained that children needed to make sense of things that happened. When children didn’t have all the facts, they used their imagination to fill the gaps. “Often this results in misunderstandings, which they may keep to themselves, especially if they are frightening. What they imagine is usually more frightening than what really happened.”
In the same article, Dr Lyndy Matthews, chairwoman of the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists’ New Zealand committee, wrote that earthquake victims might be affected by shock, grief and loss and it was important that help was available to them in the aftermath. She said a lot could be done to help, but caution was required in revisiting the traumatic events through “debriefing”, as it could compound the trauma.

road damage Christchurch earthquake

Herald Article link

Ministry of Education link
The Mental Health Foundation
Coping after an Earthquake

Ministry of Health fact sheets

Royal New Zealand Airforce

TV1 Nigel Latta offering advice

Written by Elaine Newton, Early Years Facilitator Hauraki/Thames/Coromandel

Connecting with Communities: Geraldine Kindergarten Magazine

One of the comments that we hear frequently in our work with EC centres, is that the community doesn’t understand or value the work we do. To overcome this, Geraldine Kindergarten has begun producing a magazine which is available to their whole community.

The vision for the magazine is to build and strengthen the relationship with families and the community. “We want to communicate what we do here, how we do it and why we do it the way we do, in a really professional way.” said Tania Boland (Head teacher at Geraldine Kindergarten).

The hope is, that by making the kindergarten more visible through informing the community about the teaching and learning at the centre and other current ECE trends and issues, community interest and involvement in the kindergarten will be strengthened.

The magazine has been made available to every family, and to increase community access, it has also been placed in doctor’s surgeries, local cafes, schools, the Information Centre and Real Estate agencies. Feedback has been very positive:
“ Awesome, eye catching and informative”, “What a great way to communicate”
Keep an eye on Geraldine Kindergarten’s Blog for this term’s magazine

posted by Tracey

Babies – The Movie – Great infant and toddler professional learning

Earlier this year I had the privilege alongside other early childhood teachers of attending Babies – The Movie. This one and half-hour documentary of four babies from four different countries is a wonderful opportunity for infant and toddler specialists to use in their professional learning around culturally responsive infant and toddler contexts.

Why not make a night of it and pop some popcorn as you marvel at the competence of these young infants and the different contexts in which they were raised.

Something which really struck  me is the amount of things that surround babies brought up in a Western culture whereas people and places were much more prominent for babies growing up in Mongolia and Namibia. The DVD Is now available from Amazon for around $24.00 New Zealand

Watch the official trailer for this movie on You Tube.  It will inspire you!

Posted by  Helen