Volume 1, 2013
Student Teacher Perspectives in Inclusive Practice in Practicum: "How can I make a difference?"
Bill Hagan and Lyndon Todd
There is a growing debate in the field of inclusive education for children with special needs about the importance of strengthening content that underpins initial teacher education programmes. Promoting the understanding that inclusion is multi-faceted and that teachers need to address inequities for these children is vital to equip beginning teachers to make a difference for all children. We will discuss this challenge in teacher education from the authors' perspectives of early years inclusive-education curricula in both the Queensland (Australia) context and in the context of Aotearoa New Zealand, with a particular focus on one early childhood teacher education programme where both of the authors now teach.
Keywords: inclusion, inclusive education, initial teacher education
What Can Children Learn Through Play? Chinese Parents' Perspective of Play and Learning in Early Childhood Education
The value of play has been highly valued and promoted in early childhood education in New Zealand and the modern Western countries. However, this concept has recently been challenged by Chinese parents who believe children's academic achievement as being far more important than play in early childhood education. This review of a selected portion of a vast array of literature on play intends to examine Chinese parents' perspective of play and compare it with the mainstream theory of play. A series of themes emerge from the literature, and in addition, my experiences of being both a Chinese parent and an early childhood teacher educator will add light to discussion and to promote thinking about the cultural differences in beliefs about play when supporting student teachers.
Keywords: Play; Early childhood education; Learning through play; Teacher's role; Play and culture; Parent's perspective
The Teacher's Calling: A Window to the teacher's motivation to teach
There is a growing body of literature which indicates that teachers teach under challenging conditions. It is proposed that the technocratic-reductionist view of the teacher is detrimental to teacher well-being. This article examines a counter educational discourse both in New Zealand and overseas, that advocates for the personal in teaching. This emerging discourse signals that teachers' inner lives and their sense of vocation is worthy of closer examination. Recent studies have captured a glimpse of a change in the way teachers choose to describe their work, choosing to call what they do a vocation or a calling. A closer examination of the teacher's call to teach seems to confirm the emotional, ethical, moral and spiritual dimension of teaching. It is argued that for a profession that is rooted in caring relationships, teachers' psycho-emotional well-being deserves more attention.
Keywords: the teacher's calling; early childhood teaching; teacher well-being
Transition to School – the next phase of the child's learning and development
The development of a more positive transition process for children in Early Childhood Education was a journey of discovery that was part of a bigger process for all those concerned with the learning and development of the child. I conducted this action research project at a pre-school in South Auckland, and the findings included strategies for improvement in the transition to school process. Most importantly, with the on-going support and reciprocal relationships between parents and teachers, early childhood teachers and new entrant teachers, the transition process was found to be more successful. As a consequence, the process may lessen stress and anxiety for both children and families.
Keywords: sharing of information, school visits, relationship and continuity and match between contexts, early childhood education.
"Butter comes from Buttercups, I think?"
Teacher's Research on Children's Working Theories
Jacquie Lees and Sudha Jacob
This article looks at two teachers' research into the ways we work to develop children's scientific thinking in our curriculum and how we build children's skills in theorising and reasoning. The research was undertaken as a means of allowing us to examine our practice with the intent of improving it and, as a result, improve learning outcomes for the children in our centre. The research follows the children's investigation of a theory that butter comes from buttercups and their teachers' growing understanding that trying things out and seeing what happens is at the core of scientific experimentation. As a result of this inquiry, we were able to rethink and reconstruct our image of ourselves as teachers, and understand that it is not necessary for us to have all the "right answers"; rather it is through a journey of discovery with the children that meaningful learning is able to happen.
Keywords: early childhood, working theories, buttercups
Place Matters: Reconceptualising early childhood leadership for the 21st century
This article will explore the current "neo-liberal" global approach to policy, and argue that what is needed is a reconceptualising of leadership for the 21st century. It will be suggested that the current dominant notion of leadership based on individualism and one size fits all is ignoring the interconnectedness between economic, social and environmental sustainability (Bottery, 2011). It will then go on to explore the notion of reconceptualising leadership toward a more critical "place-conscious" approach to leadership, so as to better participate in debates around what constitutes "good society" and what counts as well-being. Lastly, it will argue the relevance of a critical place-conscious approach to early childhood leadership in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Keywords: leadership; early childhood; place-conscious; reconceptualising; social justice; interconnectedness; global
A Literature Review: Development of peer assisted supplementary learning in the BEd (Early Childhood Teaching) E tāua le soālaupule: The Importance of Collaboration for Ensuring Successful Course Completion and Academic Performance
This literature review informs the development of the Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS) at Manukau Institute of Technology. Peer Assisted Study Sessions is a supplementary activity that reinforces classroom learning in an 'out-of-class' environment. Many universities aim toward provision of this support for 'at-risk' courses, but the Manukau Institute of Technology PASS scheme for their degree in early childhood teaching focuses primarily on ensuring Pasifika and Maori students' success in course completion and academic achievement.
Keywords: PASS, PAL, Supplement Instructions, peer mentors, PASS co-ordinator
Risk: Risky to Take or Risky to Ignore?
While the importance of risk-taking in the outdoors has been researched and recognised, we are also living in a society plagued by risk anxiety. The research set out to find out whether, given this anxiety, the recognised importance of risk-taking is being translated into practice in our early childhood centres. Specifically, the research asked: "Are we supporting children's risk-taking in the outdoors, and how are we doing this?" This case study, conducted in a room of an early childhood centre in Aoteoroa New Zealand which caters for children aged between 4½ and 5 years, looked into what ways parents and teachers support children's risk-taking in the outdoors. Eight parents, two teachers and eight children participated in the study. The research methodology was questionnaires and face-to-face interviews.
The main findings of the research are that parents and teachers do support children's risk-taking in the outdoors. Adults support children's risk-taking by using strategies such as supervision, support and encouragement, and through providing a variety of risks in areas of height, speed, water, impact and body mastery. The research also identified that most of the adult participants' views paralleled the statement "Acceptable risk is where a child learns and develops from taking a risk, but not getting hurt in any way, i.e. physically, mentally or emotionally". Implications for practice are that there needs to be more education surrounding the benefits of free exploration in risk-taking, the different forms risk-taking can take, especially "smaller" risks such as building a tall sandcastle, and lastly the role nature can play in providing for risk-taking.
Keywords: risk-taking, risk, outdoors, case study
Capes of Power
Superhero play is classed as a type of imaginative and/or dramatic play (Barnes, 2008). Superhero play is a form of play and expression for children in early childhood contexts. Many adults have criticised the value and necessity of superhero play for young children. Often superhero play is seen to bring about aggression, violent tendencies and disruptive behaviour. This research investigates the controversy by asking: In what ways do children benefit from engaging in superhero play? Using a case study approach, the research delves into the world of superhero play and investigates the perspectives and opinions that people hold on superhero play. The research was conducted in the young children's (ages 3–5) room of a privately owned childcare centre. Teachers, parents and children were all participants in this research. Information was gathered through questionnaires and observations of children engaging in superhero play. Analysed findings suggest that the most repeated benefits of superhero play were enhancement of imagination, development of confidence, language, and social and moral skills and physical development. While the focus of this research is on benefits, there is always going to be conflicting ideas that emerge due to the controversy that superhero play brings. Even so, current and future teachers should realise the value of superhero play in young children's lives and engage it in their practice.
Keywords: Superhero play, positive guidance, fantasy play, young children
Effective Transitioning Practices from Early Childhood Centres to Primary Schools
Many levels exist in the educational continuum. The passage from an early childhood setting to primary school is seen as a major transition and one of the crucial steps a child takes in the education continuum. Most children find this transition traumatic. The transition also has vital implications for children's learning and, if not handled properly, tends to have a long-term impact on the lives of the children. This article examines literature on transition to school, discusses the significance of transition, and the need to reduce potential adverse effects by providing a smooth transition.
Keywords: Transition to primary schools, effective transitional practices, adjustments.
Finding the lost treasure: A literature review of defining and identifying gifted and talented children in early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand
This literature review is intended to explore the definitions and identifications of gifted and talented children, particularly in the area of early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand. Gifted and talented education has been recognised by the New Zealand Government and society over the last few decades. Governments have attempted to put in place a variety of strategies to support gifted and talented children and their education. However, gifted and talented children in early childhood settings are still often overlooked by society. Te Whāriki, the New Zealand early childhood curriculum, is designed to be inclusive of all children. This curriculum has been implemented by most early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand. The basic principles of equity and fairness espoused in Te Whāriki should dictate that gifted and talented children be identified, so that their special learning needs can be met.
Keywords: Gifted and talented, early childhood education