Te Whāriki has an overarching aspiration for children:
To grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society (p.9).
It continues by stating that an early childhood setting:
provides opportunities for new learning to be fostered: for children to reflect on alternative ways of doing things; to make connections across time and place; establish different kinds of relationships; and encounter different points of view. The experiences enrich children’s lives and provide them with the knowledge, skills, and dispositions they need to tackle new challenges (p.9).
Te Whāriki describes curriculum as:
the sum total of the experiences, activities, and events, whether direct or indirect, which occur within an environment designed to foster children’s learning and development (p.10).
Te Whāriki includes learning outcomes for children that focus on knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions, and it states that each service will develop its own emphases and priorities (p.44). The curriculum’s focus on holistic and active learning is restated in the section about outcomes, reiterating the combination of knowledge, skills, attitudes and dispositions in forming children’s ‘working theories’ about the world and encouraging them to learn. The way the curriculum in each service is designed and implemented will influence the working theories and dispositions, knowledge, skills and attitudes that children develop.
The intention of Te Whāriki is that it is a curriculum that provides children with a foundation for lifelong learning. The New Zealand Curriculum sets out the links between the principles and strands of Te Whāriki and the values and key competencies of the school curriculum as shown in Figure 1.
The alignment between the strands of Te Whāriki and the key competencies of The New Zealand Curriculum shows continuity of learning over time for the learner and the connections between each sector in terms of learning pathways.