‘Ako’ – To teach and to learn

Since begining my teaching journey I have been discovering my philosphy of teaching and what leads and guides my teaching practice. What I really love about working in a childcare centre is that I can learn something new everyday from my tamariki. It’s amazing how curious and smart they are to be able to teach kaiako about the world through their eyes. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. The principle of ‘ako’ affirms the value of the pair and group learning approaches in which students interact with their peers, teacher, tasks, and resources. These are very effective approaches for teaching and learning te reo Māori.

A great example of this happened the other night, I heard my 2 year old, Kawai in the bath singing a nursery rhyme I was unfamiliar with. He was singing it over and over again and wanted me to sing along with him. I asked if he could teach me the song that he knows, and he continued to sing;

Hey diddle, diddle!
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon;
The little dog laughed
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

I searched the song up online to learn how the tune goes and there was a YouTube clip, once Kawai heard the song his face instantly smiled and he started to sing louder and louder telling me that this was the song he learnt at school. I was amazed to see how confident he was singing the song and the joy in his face when he got to the end of it. I sat with him while he was in the bath and he taught me the song by repeating it over and over. This links strongly within my philosophy of teaching by embracing the concept of ‘Ako’ and having a reciprocal learning relationship with our tamariki. Empowering our young tamariki to share their learnings with the kaiako and surrounding whānau to build whanaungatanga within our learning community. Kawais development in the Pukeko room at Play Learn Grow has been immense. He comes home every day singing waiata that he has learnt, telling me his favourite books that his kaiako read to him and I can see his actively taking part in their class day to day routine.

This was an incredibly proud moment I felt as a parent, observing the learning and seeing his development be nurtured throughout the centre and bringing that home to share with our whānau. Our national curriculum Te Whāriki states that, “all children will be empowered to learn with and alongside others by engaging in experiences that have meaning for them.” (Ministry of Education, 2017, p. 13).  Early childhood centres play such a massive part in our young children’s lifelong learning. I’ve experienced the impact on our tamariki being a kaiako in training also having my baby go through his early learning journey in a ECE centre.