Responding to diverse cultures: Good practice in home-based early childhood services Publications
Aotearoa is more ethnically and culturally diverse than ever before, and good education isn’t one-size-fits-all. Culturally responsive teaching affirms and builds on children’s cultures and languages to promote the learning outcomes of Te Whāriki through rich, relevant learning experiences. But what does “being culturally responsive” look like in practice? That’s what we asked a sample of home-based educators, visiting teachers, and leaders. This report is a collection of examples that show how children’s cultures and languages can be reflected in everyday practice.
Author(s): Education Review Office
Date Published: February 2022
Home-based education and care services
Around 15,000 children are enrolled at over 400 home-based services across Aotearoa1. This is about 8 percent of the enrolments in early childhood education (ECE), and most of the enrolments are children aged under two years. Home-based care and education is unique – unlike centre-based services, children learn within their own homes, or in the homes of their educators. Learning is promoted through experiences that would usually occur in a home setting, and the local community is used to extend and compliment the curriculum. Group sizes are between one and four children. Home-based staff are in direct, regular contact with a smaller number of families, compared to teachers in centre-based settings who have larger parent communities.
Home-based educators have various levels of qualifications, though they will be required to hold a Level 4 ECE qualification from 2025. They are supported in their practice by qualified early childhood teachers, who visit homes regularly. Many home-based networks arrange playgroups, events, and professional learning opportunities for educators, and support them in qualification programmes.Like all licensed ECE services in Aotearoa, home-based education and care services use Te Whāriki2 as the basis for their curriculum.
Aotearoa’s diverse cultural context
Our first and primary responsibility is to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. Tamariki and mokopuna Māori should be strongly supported to learn and thrive in their culture, language, and identity. For some key resources around responding to tamariki and whānau Māori,see page 20.
The cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity of Aotearoa is growing3. Around 200 languages are now spoken in New Zealand homes and,in 2018, one in three children had a parent born overseas. This report sets out to share good practices that respond to the diversity of cultures and languages in Aotearoa communities.
“Today New Zealand children are growing up in a diverse society that comprises people from a wide variety of cultures and ethnicities. Te Whāriki supports children from all backgrounds to grow up strong in identity, language and culture."
Te Whāriki, Page 7
Culturally responsive practices matter
Alongside the growth in our diverse population, there has been a growing recognition in education research that one-size-fits-all education disadvantages most children4,5. Each child has a unique learning context, as they are located within the unique culture (defined as “the beliefs,customs, arts…of a particular society,group, place, or time”6) of their family and community. Te Whāriki sets out expectationsfor an inclusive and responsive curriculum.Culturally responsive practice is part of quality teaching, not an add-on to it.
Good culturally responsive practice involves making deliberate, thoughtful actions like:
- talking to families about the learning outcomes, knowledge, skills, attitudes,and behaviours they value most
- deliberately weaving this information into teaching and learning practices,and documentation
- using words from children’s home languages in everyday conversations
- using assessment and planning processes in ways that are culturally relevant – this might involve focusing on particular experiences, values, or aspirations
- engaging in playgroups and other community outings that build on educators’ own, as well as the children’s,understandings of diverse culture
- engaging in professional learning and development that builds cultural capability
- challenging ourselves and others to continually improve.Where the difference in cultural background of educators and families is significant,educators may need support in providing culturally responsive education
- Education Counts. (2020). Enrolments in ECE (2000-2020).
- Ministry of Education. (2017). Te Whāriki: He whāriki mātauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum.
- Stats NZ. (2018). 2018 Census.
- Farquhar, S. (2003). Quality teaching early foundations: Best evidence synthesis iteration. Ministry of Education.
- Alton-Lee, A. (2008). Making a bigger difference for diverse learners: The iterative best evidence synthesis programme in New Zealand. In The education of
diverse student populations (pp. 253-271). Springer, Dordrecht.
- Merriam-Webster. (2021). Culture.
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