Planning and assessment for two-year-olds : a kindergarten perspective : a thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Education at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand

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Massey University
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The present research study explored kindergarten teachers’ perceptions of how planning and assessment is utilised to support the learning and development of two-year-olds in kindergarten. The study was framed within an interpretivist-constructivist paradigm and used a case study design to investigate and explore teachers’ perspectives and understandings of planning and assessment practices with two-year-olds. Descriptive data was gathered through focus group interviews with 17 teachers from three kindergartens. The focus group interview questions were divided into three main areas. The initial questions focused on teachers current experiences with, and perceptions of, two-year-olds in the kindergarten setting. Planning for the learning for two-year-olds, within the context of the New Zealand early childhood curriculum Te Whāriki, was then considered; assessment for learning was also explored, including methods of assessment and documentation. Lastly, teachers professional knowledge and how this supported their teaching practice with two-year-olds was examined. Key findings suggest that the teachers were aware of the complexities of teaching two-year- olds and what was needed to support them in their own kindergartens. Teachers engaged with early childhood literature and professional development to support their knowledge and understanding of planning and assessment and how to support the learning of two-year-olds. The majority of the responses highlighted the positive perspectives of the teachers’ and their awareness of the characteristics pertinent to two-year-olds. Responsive and reciprocal relationships between teacher, child and parents and whānau underpinned practice with children. Within these relationships, teachers identified that primary caregiving was an important aspect of their practice in supporting the learning for two-year-olds. The findings provided a snapshot of the way in which teachers plan and assess for learning and suggest that planning the environment plays a significant role in the ways in which children’s learning and development were supported, as teachers navigate the characteristics of both older and younger children within the same space. Understanding how these processes can support two-year-olds is important in order for planning and assessment practices to be effectively utilised for decision making and implementation of the early childhood curriculum. The current study provides a valuable contribution in describing what teachers do to support learning for two-year-olds in a kindergarten context.
Toddlers, Education (Preschool), New Zealand, Kindergarten, Curriculum planning, Educational tests and measurements, Kindergarten teachers, Attitudes