Volume 2, 2014
Who Needs Shoelaces? That's What Velcro Is For!
Recently there has been much media hype questioning young children's use of iPads in early childhood education, with the suggestion that young children today cannot tie their shoelaces, yet they can competently navigate an iPad. There was no question or debate of how developmentally appropriate tying of shoelaces is in early childhood. Many four year olds are still grappling with pressure (force), dexterity and hand-eye coordination (Connell & McCarthy, 2014), the skills needed for the complex tasks such as tying shoelaces. There had been no examination of whether this was an appropriate or functional task to be teaching children especially when most of their shoes are fastened with Velcro. Shoelaces are not children's reality in today's world; iPads are. Children see experience, and are not daunted by the technology they encounter in their environment. This is their learning life.
Keywords: Children's learning, technology, change, inclusion, inclusive education, initial teacher education
"Yuck, I'm not eating that!" Fostering Healthy Eating in Unresponsive Eaters
This research project was conducted in order to endeavour to increase our team's effectiveness of fostering healthy eating in unresponsive eaters. It asks: "How can teachers effectively foster young children to eat healthy food, when they do not want to eat it?" The participants were three and four year olds in an early childhood centre situated in a low socio-economic area of South Auckland.This action research examines the beliefs of the centre's teachers in fostering healthy eating in young children; their beliefs were was collected through the means of a questionnaire. These beliefs, along with literature review findings, were collated into "healthy food expectations" for the centre, the teachers and the children and parents. Two strategies from these expectations were implemented, observed by the researcher and evaluated by four teachers, to examine the effectiveness of the strategies. Findings from the intervention show the importance of praise and encouragement along with positively encouraging children to try food.
Keywords: unresponsive eaters, nutrition, healthy choices, early childhood education, action research
This literature review discusses Chinese traditional philosophy in early childhood education, and gives an account of the historical background of Chinese educational philosophy. It then goes on to review the literature concerning Chinese immigrant parents' apprehension about their children's early childhood education in their host countries. It argues that children's sociocultural backgrounds need to be considered when implementing a play-based curriculum in early childhood education. One of the more significant findings to emerge from the literature is that Chinese highly revere children's learning and their education and rarely emphasise the value of play on its own.
Keywords: Chinese, educational philosophy, early childhood
"Should I stay or should I go", a song by The Clash (1982), sums up the dilemma many students face when they begin their journey in tertiary study. This article presents a case study research project which examined the experiences of first-year students on a bachelor's degree programme and specifically looks at why some students consider withdrawing and factors that students identify as barriers to their success. Retention and success continues to be an issue for tertiary institutions, especially in the first year when attrition and non-completion is at its highest (Crosling, Heagney & Thomas, 2009; Zepke, Leach & Prebble, 2006). Today's student body is diverse and unlike "traditional" students, today's students have many personal issues that can be barriers to success. Adding to this is the considerable pressure academic staff are under to support students both academically and pastorally despite tightening fiscal constraints. It is argued that further discussion is needed on the implications of these barriers.
Keywords: tertiary education; student retention and success; student withdrawal; student attrition and non-completion; pastoral care; first-year higher education; barriers to success
Families' Talanoaga About Building Relationships
With Special Education Services
Lila Mauigoa-Tekene, Bill Hagan, Lin Howie
This research was conducted in New Zealand in 2012 as a contract research project funded by the Ministry of Education. Pasifika Education Research Priorities (Ministry of Education, 2012a), the Ministry's current priority for Pasifika research in education, has highlighted the goal of improving engagement and satisfaction with Special Education (SE) services for Pasifika young people and their families. This was explored from the perspectives of parents and families of young children of early childhood and primary school age primarily within the Manukau area. We used talanoa (conversation/telling stories) (T. M. Vaioleti, 2006) as the framework for collecting data. This approach enabled families to share their own stories in depth with the interviewers. We concur with Sapon-Shevin (2007) who argues that the term inclusive education means ensuring participation by all children who may be excluded by ability, gender, socio- economic status, ethnicity or other categories. Pasifika families in this research experienced personal and systemic barriers to accessing services. Overcoming systemic barriers such as the need for wider support for parents, families and communities are one of several priorities that came out of this research. This includes providing professional development for staff in early childhood centres and schools to identify and support families with children with special needs. Service providers also need to focus on building relationships and be culturally sensitive and aware so they can support intercultural communication and understanding.
Keywords: Pasifika research, inclusive education, family services
Early childhood teachers' practice in Aotearoa is guided by Te Whāriki (Ministry of Education, 1996) and their obligations to Te Tiriti o Waitangi. However, many teachers don't feel comfortable with bicultural practice and find its application bewildering. Therefore, this research paper was aimed at strategies in which Te Ao Māori could be integrated into the curriculum for toddlers naturally. The research was conducted by using action research methods at a younger toddlers' room with the participants being both teachers and children. Waiata, pakiwaitara and toi Māori were introduced over a three-week period. The evaluation of findings, gathered by observation sheets, questionnaires and a research journal, showed that waiata and pakiwaitara were very effective teaching strategies. Throughout the research it became clear that the level of children's learning depended greatly on the level of teachers' involvement. While the research was successful in its main goal, the fact that it was not the undertaking of the whole team at the centre made it hard for some teachers to feel the same degree of responsibility for its implementation and results. However, the findings clearly show that this approach to a bicultural curriculum works very well for the young age group and could be easily adopted by other centres to make Te Ao Māori part of their daily learning programme.
Keywords: bicultural, Māori, toddlers, curriculum
Reflection is part of the strategies most teachers use as they consider their practice with children. Essentially, it is a way of engaging with events and reframing them in order to consider what happened, associated thinking, personal and professional responses, relevant literature, and possibilities for practice in similar circumstances in the future. This paper suggests that the process of reflection includes many different forms of thinking, and identifying and exploring each one may better support the process of teaching "reflection' to student teachers and make the process easier for professionals. Understanding each separate element may make clearer for educators each part of what they experience in their work with children, and any subsequent reconsideration of what happened.
A wide body of literature reveals that visual arts practices in early childhood continue to be an area of practice that can cause uncertainty and discomfort for teachers. Some teachers experience anxiety surrounding their ability to support the arts in the classroom and often view themselves as lacking creativity and artistic ability. This can directly impact on how teachers plan for and teach the visual arts. Evidence has shown that exploring beliefs and values surrounding the visual arts can help teachers to reconceptualise their visual arts pedagogies. This process can allow teachers to gain new understanding that will enable them to further support the visual arts as a meaningful part of the curriculum. It has also been found that the process of creating art whilst thinking about art itself can be a powerful tool for generating new understanding.
This year, the students enrolled in the expressive arts paper who were studying for the BEd (ECT) at Manukau Institute of Technology, were asked to reflect on their own beliefs and values surrounding the arts, and were given the option of creating a participatory art journal. In order to understand this process better, I conducted my own self-study project. Through the process of making art and looking at existing images, I explored how my past experiences had shaped my beliefs and values in the visual arts. Through this process I was able to see how these experiences had informed my classroom practices. This project endeavoured to provide better understanding about how using art as a tool for inquiry and reflection can allow deep examination of pedagogical beliefs as a means to enable reconceptualisation of visual arts pedagogies.
Keywords: visual art, early childhood teaching, self-study
The overall goal of this research was to highlight the importance of the environment in shaping children's emerging identity and finding new ways to achieve this in an early childhood centre environment. The research question asked "What are the characteristics of an environment that promote the identity of the child?" and an action research methodology (Robert-Holmes, 2011) was applied to the question. This paper briefly describes current literature on the environment as a mediator in shaping children's identities then focuses on key findings from this small-scale research project. The main findings support current literature and theories identifying the sociocultural, physical and pedagogical environments in early childhood as the primary influencers in shaping a child's identity. Of particular interest, as captured through the children's voices, is a preference for solitary play and the strong voice of parents and teachers on the teacher's role in aiding the construction of positive identities through continuing dialogue with children as they relate with others, self and the environment. Implications for practice are also discussed.
Keywords: environment, fostering children's identities, early childhood education
This is a reflective account of my journey, as a student, into research. I uncovered powerful learning through the use of a reflective journal, which made the process of doing the research a genuine learning discovery; I developed my philosophy as I listened to the emotions of the process.
Through an understanding and passionate research supervisor, I was mentored to design a piece of research that talked to me. The design allowed for learning in between the lines – which I don't think either of us expected. The emotions of what happened gave me my greatest learning.
Children deserve passionate teachers and I believe that research can play a big part in inspiring new ideas and developing quality that can only be in the best interest of children. My advice to students who are doing practice-based research is, "Throw yourself into your research; don't have preconceived ideas but allow the process to lead, inspire and influence you to new discoveries and learning; don't make it just about passing the course."
Keywords: collaboration, English as first language, children as competent learners
Building Literacy through
Sarah van Deursen
This research explores the use of the iPad as a literacy learning tool in one public kindergarten. The purpose is to improve teacher practice by asking the research question ~ "How can we use the iPad to enhance Literacy development in children attending an Auckland kindergarten?"
The main findings reveal how teachers view the iPad as a positive contributor to children's learning. It explores teachers' belief that the iPad is a valuable resource, with particular benefits to building social skills through turn-taking, bonding of friendships and sharing of ideas. Further, it identifies how iPad use enhances literacy through extension of social skills; fostering oral literacy through the sharing of ideas. The questionnaire findings are mirrored in the learning stories and blog entries, confirming the role the iPad plays in building friendships.
The implications highlight firstly, the importance of on-going professional development in iPad technology for teachers so as to enrich children's literacy. Secondly, staff need to remain open to what the children can teach us about iPad technology; and thirdly staff developing knowledge that enables them to identify literacy as a common thread through all elements of children's learning.
Keywords: ICT, Literacy, Early Childhood
Our Creative Journey: The Starry Night Project
The researcher's overall goal was to cultivate in young children an appreciation for their artistic creativity. The researcher started by asking the questions "How can teachers foster young children's artistic creativity?" and "How do teachers' views impact on children's creativity?" The setting for the research was a day-care centre in a high socio- economic area, and involved the observation of children aged four to five years. Five full- time staff were chosen to participate, mainly because of their fondness for artistic creativity. An action research methodology was chosen because the researcher wanted to reflect on current practice with the aim of bringing about change in how art is implemented with the children. A questionnaire was used for collecting data.
The research findings indicated that there was a need to more closely align the curriculum, the environment, and teachers' views and perceptions, and after discussions with the team, a new arts-based curriculum was introduced. This more open curriculum provided opportunities for children and staff to focus more strongly on processes and to explore new techniques. Children were given more time for developing the creative processes and also time to revisit their artwork. There was a move towards a balance of child-centred and adult- initiated experiences, and a designated space was made available to the children, away from the flow of traffic. The project was called the "Our Creative Journey: The Starry Night Project", the title being based on the original focus of the children's work. The outcomes of the Starry Night Project were profound, with children demonstrating a more positive self- concept and view of themselves as artists.
Keywords: young children, creativity, teachers, early childhood education curriculum, teachers' views/perceptions
Using Learning Stories as a Resource
to Identify Gifted Children
Melanie Wong and Lynnette Radue
This article promotes the use of learning stories for identification and assessment purposes in gifted education. Based on research and personal experiences, the authors highlight the need to use an identification tool that is suitable for the varied contexts of early childhood settings. It is suggested that the narrative approach in the form of learning stories is used. This tool is commonly used by early childhood teachers in Aotearoa New Zealand; however, it is generally not being used for identifying giftedness. The authors believe that early identification of giftedness is possible using learning stories, but the effectiveness of this tool increases with contributions from teachers, children and parents/whānau. Personal perspectives provide insight into the realities of using learning stories in gifted education. The article concludes with suggestions for future practice that the authors believe will improve teaching practice and identification of giftedness in young children.
Keywords: gifted education, early childhood education, learning stories