Schisms and shimmers of hope: sector difference and the influence on children's learning
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Teaching and Learning
Historically the early childhood and school education sectors in New Zealand have been viewed as different, since each is positioned separately in terms of Government policy and legislation. Children and families experience sector difference during transition from early childhood to school. National and international research studies point to a view of transition to school as a period of transformative change. Transitioning experiences have the capacity to transform positively and negatively according to a child’s reaction to, and their ability to cope in, a new setting.
Research studies suggest that sectors’ transitioning practices need to focus on providing children and families with support as they adapt to the new learning environment. Environmental and relationship familiarity have dominated the direction of the support provided by teachers to date. Less attention has been given to supporting children’s continuity of learning. The fact that the two sectors operate under distinctively different curricula suggests the existence of difference in approaches to teaching and learning. This research study set out to learn about the influence of sector difference on children’s learning during transition to school and to gain insight into the ways in which teachers might support children’s continuity of learning.
The study was set in the professional development context of a group of early childhood and primary teachers participating together with a focus on early literacy teaching and learning. The group was to look closely at the learning experiences of a group of transitioning children, while discussing and learning about curriculum practices in each sector. Constructivist perspectives underpinned this study as meaning and understandings emerged through participant conversations and interactions. The study draws together teacher insights and understandings with children’s experiences to propose ways that sector complementarity could more effectively support children’s continuity of learning.
The questions raised in this study point to a need for practitioner research studies to be undertaken, where teachers can investigate local solutions as they strive to improve the ways they support transitioning children and families/whānau and progress implementation of the New Zealand Curriculum (2007).