Working theories in the revised Te Whāriki

Rather like a blog post, or indeed any piece of writing – including learning stories – you may or may not have any idea how many hours and drafts went into creating pieces in Te Whāriki that I feel are significant – and am proud of – in relation to my research and the purpose of this blog. If you are a keen and close reader you will recognise some of the key words and phrases 🙂

Firstly, working theories remain alongside learning dispositions as key overarching outcomes for children. Page 23 describes and defines each of these concepts and – most importantly – highlights ways they work in parallel.

“Working theories are the evolving ideas and understandings that children develop as they use their existing knowledge to try to make sense of new experiences. Children are most likely to generate and refine working theories in learning environments where uncertainty is valued, inquiry is modelled, and making meaning is the goal.

Learning dispositions and working theories are closely interwoven. For example, the disposition to be curious involves having the inclination and skills to inquire into and puzzle over ideas and events. These inquiries will often lead to the development of working theories.

Learning dispositions support children to develop, refine and extend working theories as they revisit interests and engage in new experiences. As they gain experience and knowledge, children’s working theories become more connected, applicable and useful and, at times, more creative and imaginative. (p. 23)”

Secondly, working theories are included as one of the 20 learning outcomes designed for more kaiako attention than the previous document’s outcomes. Within the strand of Exploration this is noted as:

“Over time and with guidance and encouragement, children become increasingly capable of … [m]aking sense of their worlds by generating and refining working theories | te rangahau me te mātauranga (p. 47)”

“Making sense”, “generating” and “refining”: such simple words that mean so much in terms of children’s cognitive and affective engagement with their worlds. And this could lead us to so much more we could research about children’s working theories and ways teachers stimulate and respond to sense making efforts. More about that research in future posts.




Photo credits:  1) “nichole pulls up” (CC BY 2.0) by popofatticus; 2) “first one down” (CC BY 2.0) by popofatticus; 3) “stepping on big blocks_2726c” (CC BY 2.0) by James Emery


Implementation support for Te Whāriki

As we all know, ongoing professional learning is vital. The MOE were able to announce that $4 million has been budgeted for professional learning and development programme to support teachers, educators and kaiako across the early learning sector to engage with the updated curriculum. See

Photo credit: Pixabay

Technology enables access in ways unheard of 21 years ago with reference to live-streamed sessions and use of websites. It was therefore unsurprising perhaps that the PLD contracts are led by the fabulous CORE-Education team who have led the way in this domain.



The revision team began work alongside revising the curriculum document on resources that are included now on:  I will be excited to see what is selected for development of resources on this site and how these relate to the learning outcomes. Keep up-to-date by checking for new material on:

If you participate in any PLD sessions of any kind, let me know what you engage with around working theories 😉


Ministry of Education. (2017). Te Whāriki. He whāriki matauranga mō ngā mokopuna o Aotearoa: Early childhood curriculum. Wellington: Ministry of Education.



Photo credit: IMG_5747 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) by AIBakker