Strands and goals

Children dancing.

Children dancing to music.

The strands and goals of the curriculum arise from the principles. Each strand embodies an area of learning and development that is woven into the daily programme of the early childhood setting and has its own associated goals for learning.

There are five strands:

  • Well-being – Mana Atua
  • Belonging – Mana Whenua
  • Contribution – Mana Tangata
  • Communication – Mana Reo
  • Exploration – Mana Aotūroa

The strands are defined in terms of the goals and learning outcomes needed to achieve them, of each strand’s relationship to the principles, and of adult responsibilities associated with each strand.

The Goals

The goals identify how the principles and strands can be incorporated into programmes at a practical level. The goals for learning and development within each strand are described in terms of:

  • learning outcomes for knowledge, skills, and attitudes;
  • questions for reflection;
  • some examples of experiences to help meet these outcomes for infants, toddlers, and young children.

Indicative Learning Outcomes

Knowledge, skills, and attitudes

The outcomes of a curriculum are knowledge, skills, and attitudes. The list of outcomes in this document is indicative rather than definitive. Each early childhood education setting will develop its own emphases and priorities.

In early childhood, holistic, active learning and the total process of learning are emphasised. Knowledge, skills, and attitudes are closely linked. These three aspects combine together to form a child’s “working theory” and help the child develop dispositions that encourage learning.

In early childhood, children are developing more elaborate and useful working theories about themselves and about the people, places, and things in their lives. These working theories contain a combination of knowledge about the world, skills and strategies, attitudes, and expectations. Children develop working theories through observing, listening, doing, participating, discussing, and representing within the topics and activities provided in the programme. As children gain greater experience, knowledge, and skills, the theories they
develop become more widely applicable and have more connecting links between them. Working theories become increasingly useful for making sense of the world, for giving the child control over what happens, for problem solving, and for further learning. Many of these theories retain a magical and creative quality, and for many communities, theories about the world are infused with a spiritual dimension.

The second way in which knowledge, skills, and attitudes combine is as dispositions – “habits of mind” or “patterns of learning”. An example of a learning disposition is the disposition to be curious. It may be characterised by:

  • an inclination to enjoy puzzling over events;
  • the skills to ask questions about them in different ways; and
  • an understanding of when is the most appropriate time to ask these questions.

Dispositions are important “learning outcomes”. They are encouraged rather than taught. To encourage robust dispositions to reason, investigate, and collaborate, children will be immersed in communities where people discuss rules, are fair, explore questions about how things work, and help each other. The children will see and participate in these activities.

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.

Dispositions provide a framework for developing working theories and expertise about the range of topics, activities, and materials that children and adults in each early childhood service engage with.

Questions for reflection

Questioning and reflecting on practice are first steps towards planning and evaluating the programme. They encourage adults working with children to debate what they are doing and why they are doing it and lead to establishing an information base for continued planning and evaluation of the curriculum.

Examples of experiences that help to meet learning outcomes

For each goal, examples are given of ways in which the programme should respond to the specific needs of infants, toddlers, and young children. The goals should be interpreted according to the individual needs of each child, but it is implicit that many of the examples which apply to younger children continue to apply to children of an older age group.

The Five Strands


Last updated: 4 March 2014