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Voices of playgroup: Connecting pedagogy and understandings

Sara Archard and Simon Archard

The engagement of migrant families in early childhood education is a strategy pursued by the Ministry of Education in Aotearoa New Zealand. A growing body of research has explored the realities being experienced by these migrant families. These realities include how families are able to maintain their cultural identities, practices and languages while making a new life in Aotearoa New Zealand.

A supported playgroup model is one type of provision that can serve as a valuable introduction to early childhood education for parents and carers and their children of any pre-school age. Through informal conversations, and the modelling of learning through play, qualified and experienced facilitators can introduce and demonstrate important theoretical and pedagogical notions of learning, including the principles and practices of Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum. In addition, playgroups can be a place for listening to, and sharing in, the aspirations and priorities that families have for their children.

This article draws on a research project that explores how pedagogy and practices of early childhood education in Aotearoa New Zealand were introduced by teachers in a supported playgroup attended by migrant families who had English as an additional language. It reflects on how pedagogy and practices interacted with the families’ educational expectations and cultural understandings and practices.

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