Well-focused early learning services (19 percent)
Early learning services with some focus (50 percent)
Early learning services with limited or no focus (31 percent)
> Multiple ways of knowing children.
> Ongoing and systematic gathering and recording of information about children’s oral language learning and development.
> Developing and maintaining relationships with parents and whānau.
> Valuing children’s home language.
> Having shared expectations for oral language development with some services using milestones, progressions or indicators.
> Oral language often a curriculum priority – as part of a literacy focus.
> Implementing a responsive curriculum that includes:
− a language-rich core connected to children’s and teachers’ strengths and interests
− opportunities for small group and 1-1 experiences
− routines that are valued as a way to support oral language development
− sustained rich vocabulary experiences
− planned strategies targeted to individuals and groups.
> Good awareness of research, readings and resources to support teacher practice.
> Professional learning and development, both internally and externally facilitated, accessed in many forms and on a variety of topics related to oral language.
> A strong focus on relationships with parents and whānau.
> Teachers knowing children through regular observations and listening to them.
> Valuing children’s home language.
> Variable understanding about oral language development (expectations) with reliance on individual teacher knowledge in some of these services.
> Oral language promoted as part of the curriculum through language-rich experiences and a mix of group and 1-1 interactions.
> In some of these services the main oral language focus was at ‘mat time’ rather than the multiple opportunities afforded by the rich curriculum.
> Some PLD in many of these services but it varied in the extent to which it focused specifically on oral language.
> Common for Speech Language Therapists to be working with individual children, offering workshops and providing resources.
> Some teacher discussion about children with oral language concerns.
> Some monitoring where children have Individual Development Plans (IDPs).
> Relationships with parents and whānau a key means to get information about individual children – mostly when child starts at service and often quite informal.
> Yet to develop clear and shared expectations and understanding about oral language development.
> In many of these services the focus is largely on speech concerns rather than broader language development, early literacy and social interactions.
> Oral language is not an intentional part of the curriculum.
> Some inappropriate responses in these services that include activity-based and overly teacher-directed activities.
> Large group ‘mat times’ a feature of some services where ERO found children were disengaged or passive learners.
> Poor quality interactions were an issue in some services with a lack of rich conversations between children and between children and teachers.
> Limited or no PLD related to oral language.
> In a few of these services there was recent change of ownership or ongoing staff turnover or instability.
> Discussions about children’s oral language largely informal.
> Assessment practices not well developed.
ERO found that across all the early learning services in this evaluation:
> internal evaluation, research and reflective practice related to oral language was not strong
> few were building a picture of oral language progress over time in assessment information.