What outcomes to expect from early childhood education

Published on Wednesday, 03 April 2019
Last updated on Monday, 16 November 2020

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There's no doubt that high quality early childhood education (ECE) provides an enriching start to your child's life.

As well as teaching youngsters new skills and expanding on what they've already learnt, ECE services and kōhanga reo also build a strong foundation for their future success - arming your child with the skills, knowledge and confidence to help them become lifelong learners.

With this in mind, here are some early learning outcomes that you can expect when you put your child in a high quality early childhood service.

1. Your child will reap the benefits of an individualised early learning programme

Whether your youngster attends an early childhood education (ECE) service or a kōhanga reo, Te Whāriki sets out the curriculum for early learning in this country.

Te Whāriki translates as 'the woven mat' and it provides a framework of principles and strands that help educators to weave an individual learning programme for each child, with help from their parents and whānau.

The programme takes into account your child's particular interests and strengths, what they've learnt from you already, plus the learning opportunities on offer at your ECE service or kōhanga reo.

Since Te Whāriki is underpinned by the four principles of Empowerment, Holistic Development, Whānau and Community, and Relationships, this curriculum aims to bring out the best in your child and support them as they learn and grow.

2. Your child will enjoy positive long-term outcomes

Although the early childhood years represent a relatively small part of your child's life, they play a large role in laying the foundations for their later success.

With a focus on five learning areas (Wellbeing, Contribution, Belonging, Communication and Exploration), Te Whāriki strives for your child to become:

  • A confident and competent learner and communicator
  • Healthy in mind, body and spirit
  • Secure in their sense of belonging
  • Secure in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society

ECE also helps children forge links and form relationships, see the world in different ways and harness their potential - now and going forward.

3. Your child will learn skills and develop behaviours at ECE

Although every child progresses at their own pace and has different interests and aptitudes, ECE helps your child to learn and develop in five key areas: Physically, socially, emotionally, cognitively and linguistically.

Here are some ways that children aged three to six gain experience and skills in the early learning environment:

Developmental area Behaviours
Physical At an ECE service or kōhanga reo, your child will:
  • Sing, dance and play games
  • Learn to take increased responsibility for their health and physical wellbeing, e.g. when dressing, eating and toileting
  • Develop their fine motor skills, e.g. learning to hold a crayon/pencil and show a hand preference
  • Develop their gross motor skills, e.g. running, skipping, climbing and jumping
Social Your child will:
  • Form friendships and may have a particular friend
  • Learn to relate well to other children in a group
  • Meet people outside their whānau
  • Enjoy playing and exploring with other children
  • Take turns, share, cooperate and negotiate
  • Learn about disagreements and how to manage these
  • Develop independence and social skills
Emotional Your child will:
  • Understand their own feelings and those of others, e.g. understand if someone is hurt and provide comfort
  • Try new things and be courageous
  • Learn to respond to diversity with respect
Cognitive Your child will:
  • Solve problems
  • Begin to understand and make sense of the world around them
  • Have a longer attention span
  • Learn about words, numbers, colour-matching and opposites (e.g. hot/cold)
  • Learn how things work and use objects and materials to build, e.g. an 8-10 block tower
Language Your child will:
  • Speak in sentences
  • Ask questions, tell stories and have a say
  • Converse with children and adults
  • Experiment with new words and adult forms of speech
  • Enjoy jokes, rhymes and stories
  • Assert themselves with words

4. There will be opportunities for parental involvement

Although you may not be physically present during day, there are ways for you to share in your child’s experiences.

ECE services and kōhanga reo record each child's progress by putting together photos, learning stories and observations, along with examples of your child's work; so you're encouraged to look through this portfolio-style book and share the content with your child.

You're also encouraged to discuss your child's progress with educators to help them plan your youngster's learning.

And, of course, you'll see what your child has learnt at ECE in the way they develop and grow as a person. As they learn to do new things and interact in new ways, you'll see, first-hand, the positive outcomes associated with early childhood education. Enjoy!


The Ministry of Education

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