Guiding principles
Ngā Kaupapa Ārahi

The revised DOPs are prefaced by two guiding principles, which reflect the fundamental values, beliefs, ethics, and ideals of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

The first principle concerns the role of management and educators. The second describes the aspirations for children in early childhood education that are realised through the curriculum.

1. Management and educators of chartered early childhood services, in partnership with parents/guardians and whānau, will promote and extend the learning and development of each child attending or receiving the service, through the provision of quality early childhood education and care.

2. Educators will develop and implement curriculum which assists all children to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.

These principles provide a sound foundation for management and educators and assist them to work together to:

  • develop their knowledge and understanding of early childhood education;
  • monitor and assess the role of their service and the effectiveness of its operations;
  • evaluate the contribution they make to children’s learning and development.

Incorporating the guiding principles within management practices and the learning environment of an early childhood service is a dynamic process. It requires ongoing discussions about the guiding principles and how they work in practice in an early childhood setting. The principles are at the heart of services’ decision making and assist them to meet the requirements of the DOPs in relation to:

  • children’s learning and development;
  • consultation and communication between management and educators and with parents/whānau and the local community;
  • the operation and management of the service.

1. Management and educators of chartered early childhood services, in partnership with parents/guardians and whānau, will promote and extend the learning and development of each child attending or receiving the service, through the provision of quality early childhood education and care.

Management and educators work together:

  • in partnership with parents, guardians, and whānau by acknowledging parents as first educators and by working collaboratively to develop shared goals and expectations;
  • to promote and extend each child’s learning and development by planning and providing learning opportunities and experiences appropriate for each child;
  • through the provision of quality early childhood education and care by drawing on up-to-date understandings and approaches to early childhood education.

The word “quality” means different things to different people. The suggestions and examples in this document serve as indicators that will help services improve the quality of the education and care they offer.

2. Educators will develop and implement curriculum which assists all children to grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.

The second guiding principle describes aspirations for children that are realised through a service’s curriculum. Management’s role is to support educators through the decisions it makes and the policies and procedures it develops. Educators are then empowered to develop a curriculum that will assist the children attending their service to be:

  • competent and confident learners

by providing an environment for children where their play is valued as leading to meaningful learning and where they gain confidence in and control of their bodies, learn strategies for active exploration, thinking, and reasoning, and develop working theories for making sense of the natural, social, physical, and material worlds;

  • competent and confident communicators

by providing an environment for children where they develop verbal and non-verbalcommunication skills, experience the stories and symbols of their own and other cultures, and discover and develop different ways to be creative and expressive;

  • healthy in mind, body, and spirit

by providing an environment for children where their health is promoted, their emotional well-being is nurtured, and they are kept safe from harm;

  • secure in their sense of belonging

by providing an environment for children and their families where connecting links with the family and the wider world are affirmed and extended and where children know that they have a place, feel comfortable with routines, customs, and regular events, and know the limits and boundaries of acceptable behaviour;

  • and secure in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society

by providing an environment for children where there are equitable opportunities for learning and where they are affirmed as individuals and encouraged to learn with and alongside others.

Recommended Reading - Ngā Pukapuka Āwhina

Arthur, L., B. Beecher, S. Dockett, S. Farmer, and E. Death. Programming and Planning in Early Childhood Settings. Sydney: Harcourt Brace, 1996

Meade, A. Education to Be More: Report of the Early Childhood Care and Education Working Group. Wellington: Department of Education, 1988.

Ministry of Education. Te Whāriki: He Whāriki Mātauranga mōngā Mokopuna o Aotearoa/Early Childhood Curriculum. Wellington: Learning Media, 1996.

New Zealand Educational Institute. Early Childhood Education Code of Ethics for Aotearoa/New Zealand. Wellington: NZEI, 1995.

Queensland School Curriculum Council. Preschool Curriculum Guidelines. Brisbane: Queensland School Curriculum Council, 1998.

UNICEF. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Wellington: Office of the Commissioner for Children, 1992

Journals and Newsletters - Ngā Pūrongo me ngā Pānui

Australian Journal of Early Childhood. Watson, ACT: Australian Early Childhood Association, 1984—.

Childrenz Issues. Dunedin: University of Otago Press, 1997—.

Early Education. Palmerston North: Massey University College of Education, 1993—.

Every Child: The Magazine of the Australian Early Childhood Association. Watson, ACT: Australian Early Childhood Association, 1994—.

Pānui. Wellington: Early Child Development Unit, 1989—.

Pitopito Kōrero: Talking with All Who Work in Early Childhood in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Wellington: Ministry of Education, 1992—.

Playcentre Journal. Auckland: New Zealand Playcentre Federation, 1966—.

Young Children. Washington DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1964—.


Last updated: 16 May 2011