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Te mahi kauawhi 

Inclusive practice 

Resources and ideas to create an environment that celebrates the diversity of each child, whanau, and kaiako. 

A child is smiling while looking at the camera.

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi engari he toa takitini. 

I come not with my own strengths but bring with me the gifts, talents and strengths of my family, tribe, and ancestors. 

Key ideas

In Māori tradition, children are seen to be inherently competent, capable and rich, complete and gifted, no matter what their age or ability. Descended from lines that stretch back to the beginning of time, they are important living links between past, present, and future and a reflection of their ancestors. These ideas are fundamental to how Māori understand teaching and learning.  

Te Whāriki acknowledges that all children have rights to protection and promotion of their health and wellbeing, to equitable access to learning opportunities, to recognition of their language, culture, and identity, and increasingly, to agency in their own lives. These rights align closely with the concept of mana. 

Te Whāriki is an inclusive curriculum – a curriculum for all children. Inclusion encompasses diverse family structures and values, socio-economic status, religion, refugee, migrant and minority families, gender and ability, including disabled children and those with learning and health needs. 

All children have the right to access the full depth and breadth of the curriculum

Inclusive practices for your setting: 

  • Provide an environment that invites, acknowledges, and celebrates the diversity that each child and their whānau bring.  
  • Partner with parents and whānau to create and nurture a community culture where all children belong and contribute, and are empowered to participate in meaningful play and learning with and alongside their peers.  
  • Strengthen supports, actively identify and remove barriers, and respectfully challenge unhelpful beliefs.   
  • Collaborate with parents and whānau so you know the children in your service well and understand how different children learn. This allows you to respond to each child’s diverse strengths and needs.  
  • Plan flexible, tailored responses that best fit children’s needs, identity, and cultural beliefs. This will enhance participation, wellbeing, and learning. 

Whakamana | Empowerment

Recognising every child’s right to belong, contribute, and learn is central to inclusion. Inclusive practice empowers all children to access the full depth and breadth of the curriculum within their early childhood service.  

  • How are all children provided with opportunities to access the full breadth and depth of your curriculum? 
  • How well do you identify, prioritise, and support children who have diverse learning needs? 

The provision of meaningful and relevant experiences supports every child to actively engage in all aspects of play and learning.  

  • To what extent are disabled children and children who learn differently supported to be confident and capable learners with agency over their own learning?  
  • How do you provide positive encouragement for children who find some situations and activities challenging?  

Using te reo Māori and values from te ao Māori daily is vital to build a curriculum that reflects the partnerships inherent in Te Tiriti o Waitangi and ensure mokopuna Māori are empowered with a strong sense of belonging.  

  • How are values from te ao Māori supported in your work with children? 

Children that require flexible supports for learning are valued as equal contributors to the learning community. Their progress and achievements are visible alongside those of their peers in the service. 

  • How visible are the learning, achievement, strengths, interests, progress, and next steps of disabled children and children with diverse learning needs? 

Whānau tangata | Family and community

Children, families, whānau, and communities are diverse. Respecting all children and their whānau is fundamental to inclusion. Making connections and building relationships with parents and whānau is vital to supporting children's learning and development.  

  • To what extent is everyone made to feel welcome and respected? How do you know? 

Understanding the place of Mana Whenua in your local area, along with whānau links to wider Iwi Māori, will support the authentic inclusion of te reo Māori and te ao Māori values.  

  • What could these values look like in your setting: Kotahitanga; Whakawhanaungatanga; Mana; Wananga; Manaakitanga; Ako? 

Building strong relationships with parents and whānau who have a disabled child or a child with diverse learning needs is essential to their sense of belonging and inclusion.  

  • How well do kaiako engage with parents and whānau, including those with children who require additional support, about their child’s learning?  

Kotahitanga | Holistic development

An inclusive curriculum positions children at the centre of an inclusive, holistic curriculum that provides equitable opportunities and access and celebrates diversity through the early learning setting’s curriculum.  

  • In what ways does your service value, support, and celebrate difference? 

Children learn and develop holistically, inclusive of cognitive (hinengaro), physical (tinana), emotional (whatumanawa), spiritual (wairua), and social and cultural dimensions. Kotahitanga also highlights the importance of children’s connections between children and their wider world, including Papatūānuku.  

  • How well do you respond to the diverse strengths and needs of children, whānau, and the education or community setting?  
  • How do you use curriculum planning to support holistic development in your setting? 

Ngā hononga | Relationships

Reciprocal, responsive, and respectful relationships with people, places, and things are significant in all children’s lives. Ngā hononga also reminds us that relationships between ourselves and the whenua are important in supporting children's wellbeing. 

  • How can you support and promote belonging and positive connections with peers within the child’s learning community?  

Inclusive practices identify and remove barriers so all children can learn through active participation in meaningful play experiences, daily routines, and interactions with others. Fostering positive relationships is essential to inclusion. Strong respectful relationships between and among kaiako, children, their whānau and relevant external support agencies (when required) support all children's learning and development.  

  • How visible are disabled children and children with diverse learning needs in our curriculum, including in our resources for play? 
  • How do you tailor your language and actions to help all children feel like they belong and actively participate in their learning environment? 
  • How inclusive is the service of children from diverse family types, including refugee, migrant, and minority families?
  • How inclusive is the service of children who are traumatised (victims of abuse, homelessness, etc)?  

About this resource

This page provides resources and ideas to create an inclusive environment that celebrates the diversity of each child, whānau, and kaiako. Includes reflective questions, considerations for leadership, connections to the principles of Te Whāriki, and links to useful resources.