Conclusion

These examples of good practice show that literacy teaching and learning is an integral part of high quality early childhood education. The services in this report promote an holistic approach to literacy where children’s literacy experiences are part of purposeful play, and are attuned to their interests.

Strong leadership encourages teachers and parent-educators to push boundaries, to be aware of current theories and research about early literacy, and for this knowledge to inform practice.

Teachers and parent-educators acknowledge children as learners beyond the service, and seek to provide them with the dispositions, skills and knowledge to accompany them at school and as life-long learners. They seek and value the contribution of children, parents and whānau, and others in the community. In particular, partnerships with parents and whānau are a strength, which lends itself to developing a strong awareness among adults and children of literacy experiences both at the service and at home.

Self review of programmes in these services focuses on literacy outcomes for children. It results in changes to teaching and learning that create equitable opportunities for all children.

In these services a strong focus on providing literacy teaching and learning meets the needs of individual children. Teachers recognise that what is engaging and motivating for one child and their whānau, may not be so for another. Services with infants and toddlers focus strongly on non-verbal communication, and the children’s developing verbal language. In services with young children, teachers and parent-educators foster children’s growing confidence in their literacy learning, follow children’s interests, engage them in literacy through their interests and play, and encourage children to take a lead in their own literacy learning.

Services value and provide literacy learning opportunities that recognise and foster children’s language, culture and identity. Some services have worked with their Māori and Pacific communities, so that they are able to affirm children’s cultural identity through literacy teaching and learning. Other services are paying particular attention to the literacy learning of boys, for instance using sandpit play, biking paths, and carpentry tables, and purposefully involving fathers. Where children’s first language is not English, teachers support the use of their first language and encourage parents and whānau to use their language in the service.

Parents and whānau are an integral part of literacy teaching and learning. Teachers and parent-educators draw on home experiences, share centre based experiences and knowledge of early literacy. These practices encourage an holistic view of literacy where infants, toddlers, and young children engage with literacy in ways that reflect their growing expertise, and that incorporates their home literacy practices.