Why are curriculum priorities and emphases important

Te Whāriki 1 states that each service will develop its own emphases and priorities for children’s learning. These priorities will vary in each service, with programmes being developed in response to the children enrolled in the service, the aspirations of their parents and whānau, and the service’s particular setting.

Parents often choose a service for their child because of its identified curriculum priorities. Each service’s curriculum priorities and emphases – the learning valued in their service – should guide curriculum planning and implementation, inform assessment practices, be visible in assessment documentation, and provide a focus for self review.

A responsive curriculum

Te Whāriki (p.11) describes each service’s curriculum as distinctive and dependent on a number of influences, including:

  • cultural perspectives
  • structural differences
  • organisational differences
  • different environments
  • philosophical emphases
  • different resources dependent on setting
  • local community participation
  • age range of children.

Te Whāriki places the child at the centre of the curriculum – as the learner engaged with the learning environment, surrounded by various levels of learning: home, family, and the service; the adult environment and networks; and the nation’s beliefs and values about children and their learning and development (p.19). A strong emphasis is placed on each service’s curriculum being responsive to the development and changing capabilities of the children at the service:

The curriculum builds on a child’s current needs, strengths, and interests by allowing children choices and by encouraging them to take responsibility for their learning. (p.20)

The five services highlighted in this report had clearly identified priorities for children’s learning.