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Responding authentically to Pasifika children's learning and identity development

Maria Cooper, Helen Hedges, Daniel Lovatt, and Trish Murphy

How might ways of engaging with families set Pasifika children up for learning success? Early childhood education in New Zealand is commonly play-based and builds on teachers’ understandings about children’s interests and abilities. Teachers are encouraged to collaborate with families in their assessment and planning. However, there is little research available to guide teachers in mainstream centres to interpret Pasifika children’s interests and inquiries, particularly those that link with the everyday experiences of their families, communities, or cultures. This article reports on a Pasifika child’s interests from a current Teaching and Learning Research Initiative (TLRI) project. Understandings were informed by his family’s and teachers’ perspectives, theories such as funds of knowledge, and a typology of teachers’ thinking about student identity. Deeper interpretations may help teachers to avoid stereotyping children or providing a “tourist curriculum”.

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