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Ngā hononga ki Te Whāriki

Including infants and toddlers in the educational and cultural practices of an early childhood setting requires assessment practices to be as holistic and respectful for them as for older children. It is not appropriate for infants and toddlers to experience a curriculum that is only about emotional well-being and physical development; all five strands of Te Whāriki are applicable, and assessment should reflect this.

Assessment of children should encompass all dimensions of children’s learning and development and should see the child as a whole. Attributes such as respect, curiosity, trust, reflection, a sense of belonging, confidence, independence, and responsibility are essential elements of the early childhood curriculum: they are extremely difficult to measure but are often observable in children’s responses and behaviours.

Te Whāriki, page 30

Te Whāriki is designed with the same bicultural aspirations, principles, and strands in mind for all children. However, it also emphasises that “The care of infants is specialised and is neither a scaled-down three- or four-year-old programme nor a baby-sitting arrangement” (page 22).

Carmen Dalli (2002) describes the powerful influence of teachers’ expectations and assumptions on children’s experience of starting childcare. Te Whāriki also argues that:

Assessment is influenced by the relationships between adults and children, just as children’s learning and development are influenced by the relationships they form with others. This influence should be taken into consideration during all assessment practice. Adults are learners too, and they bring expectations to the assessment task. The expectations of adults are powerful influences on children’s lives. If adults are to make informed observations of children, they should recognise their own beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes and the influence these will have on the children.

page 30

Assessment practices contribute to the development of children’s identities as competent and capable learners and communicators. Assessment practices can also contribute to the expectations that adults have of each other’s roles in the teaching and learning process, especially when children and whānau first become members of an early childhood setting’s community.


Last updated: 14 April 2010