Teachers’ experiences of including children and families from Asian cultural backgrounds in early childhood education.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Education
This thesis investigates New Zealand early childhood teachers’ understanding and experiences of teaching and including children from Asian backgrounds, in particular, Korean, Chinese and Japanese cultures. In Aotearoa New Zealand, participation in early childhood education of diverse ethnic groups is growing every year. Since 2004, the largest growth in enrolments has been among Asian ethnic groups, with an increase of 90%. The New Zealand Early Childhood Curriculum, Te Whāriki, states “there are many migrants in New Zealand, and, as in any country with a multicultural heritage, there is a diversity of beliefs about childrearing practices, kinship roles, obligations, codes of behaviour, and what kinds of knowledge are valuable” (Ministry of Education, 1996, p. 18). It is therefore important that teachers in the early childhood education service sector are able to effectively respond to the holistic learning needs and well-being of children and families from different ethnicities. This research explores what culturally inclusive and responsive teaching means in the New Zealand early childhood setting and looks at some of the barriers to and facilitators of creating learning environments that meet the needs of children from Asian cultural backgrounds.
Data was collected through interviews and questionnaires from teachers working in different early childhood centres in Christchurch. The information gathered was reviewed and evaluated using thematic analysis and the findings were considered in the context of a number of themes – from the teachers’ perceptions of Asian parents and families as influenced by their own experience, to their ideas about progressing inclusive education for children and families from Asian cultural backgrounds. This work highlights some strategies that may help progress cultural inclusion. It also outlines current research and identifies the need for more exemplars for teachers and for further research in this area.