New Te Ihuwaka report to support culturally responsive teaching in ECE

Te Ihuwaka's (ERO's Education Evaluation Centre's) latest early childhood education good practice report, published today, looks at how children’s cultures and languages can be reflected in everyday practice, supporting their learning and wellbeing.

Drawn from home-based ECE settings, Responding to Diverse Cultures: Good Practice in Home-based Early Childhood Services is a collection of useful examples to inspire and motivate kaiako to grow their ability in culturally responsive teaching.

This report is increasingly relevant as Aotearoa becomes more ethnically and culturally diverse than ever before. We know that good education is not one-size-fits-all, and when working with children and families that are a different cultural context to their own, kaiako need to take deliberate action to respond to the child’s unique way of being, knowing, and doing.

We found that key features of culturally responsive practice included:

  • ongoing conversations about culture and language, including finding out about family contexts and culturally valued knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours
  • using a range of communication tools to share how these conversations were remembered, valued, and impacted on teaching and learning
  • taking personal responsibility for supporting children to retain (or learn) their heritage languages, along with developing their English and growing their understanding of te reo Māori
  • embedding multiple languages, and conversations about languages, in everyday interactions
  • focusing assessment and planning on learning that has cultural importance for children and families
  • engaging in professional learning and development to support their understandings
  • challenging themselves, and others, to put new professional learning into practice.

To build their culturally responsive practice, leaders and kaiako may find it particularly useful to:

  • revisit Te Whāriki and Te Ara Poutama, focusing on what these key documents say about culturally responsive teaching
  • reflect on everyday practices, and how these could be enriched by diverse cultures and languages
  • consider children’s diverse languages, and how these could be fostered in everyday play and conversation
  • focus assessment and planning documentation on building culturally valued knowledge, skills, attitudes, and behaviours
  • engage in professional learning and development opportunities that build cultural understanding - and ensure that this learning is embedded in practice.

Webinar – responding to diverse cultures

On the back of this report release, Te Ihuwaka is running a webinar at 7pm on Thursday 3 March aimed at kaiako and early childhood education leaders. This short webinar is free to attend. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP to 

The report can be found on ERO’s website here:

A short summary for this report can be found here: