A cautious approach to supporting oral language needed
New Zealand Kindergartens Te Pūtahi Kura Puhou o Aotearoa (NZK) welcomes the additional $6 million over the next four years to support children’s oral language learning but urges caution in its approach.
“The research shows that children learn best where their language, culture and identity is recognised and celebrated and where relationships and experiences relate to all aspects of their development,” said Clare Wells, NZK chief executive. “Enhancing children’s language and literacy understanding must be within that context. We can’t afford to ignore that or encourage a narrow approach – to do so would short-change children and their whānau.”
“It seems the government has determined the funding will be available to upskill nearly 2,000 educators working in ECE to better support children ‘with the building blocks of literacy’,” said Clare Wells.
Qualified teachers provide a language rich environment and weave literacy across the curriculum, understanding the depth and breadth of language and literacy learning and how children’s learning progresses. “Currently only 50% of staff in an ECE centre have to be qualified teachers. Lifting the bar and requiring all staff in ‘teacher-led’ services to be qualified teachers and providing ongoing support for their professional practice would provide a more enduring approach to ensuring all children experience success in their learning.”
“We would welcome the opportunity to work with the new Minister of Education Hon Nikki Kaye to develop an appropriate and enduring approach to children’s language and literacy development within the context of the ECE curriculum,” Clare Wells said.