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Dispersing Waves: Innovation in Early Childhood Education

Early childhood education Centres of Innovation (COI) were established in 2002 as part of the 10-year plan for early childhood education, Pathways to the Future/Ngä Huarahi Arataki. In COI projects, innovative early childhood teaching teams reflect on and investigate their practices through action research, and share their findings with the wider education community.

Dispersing Waves marks the early end of the COI programme in June 2009 due to budget constraints. It gathers together reports from completed projects and gems from some that closed early.

Developing and responding to the agency of children is a strong theme. Childspace Ngaio Infants and Toddlers Centre analyse how they enact their respectful “peaceful-caregiving-as-curriculum” approach, based on the ideas of Magda Gerber and Emmi Pikler, to enrich children’s very early experiences. Otaki Kindergarten describe how they enhance children’s mana by involving them in real work on environmental sustainability, and Te Köhanga Reo o Mana Tamariki explain how they set about learning traditional methods for growing vegetables and strengthened themselves as a whänau as they did so. Greerton Early Childhood Centre vividly illustrate how embedded shared leadership is at their centre.

Two projects examine transitions: Mangere Bridge Kindergarten explain how developing projects to help children “cross the border” to school built closer ties with their local primary schools, while Hutt Family Day Care offer a literature review on young children’s transitions into home-based early education settings, completed after their first phase of data gathering.

Other projects put a single aspect of their curriculum under the spotlight: The Bush Street Kindergarten team describe how they weave learning into their central character storytelling, and First Years Preschool teachers describe their innovative, fearless approach to science.

All Round One and Two and some Round Three COI final research reports are available on

Dispersing Waves is the final in the series of COI publications, following Catching the Waves (2005), Riding the Waves (2006), Cresting the Waves (2007) and Generating Waves (2009). There is also a DVD introducing the final research reports by Round One COI teams: Centres of Innovation—First Round (2006).