What are Key Competencies/Learning Dispositions and why are they important?

Both the New Zealand Curriculum key competencies and Te Whāriki learning dispositions are frameworks designed to guide education in New Zealand, emphasising holistic development for children and students.

Both frameworks embrace a holistic view of education, recognizing the interconnectedness of cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development. They emphasise the well-being of the child or student as a central goal, acknowledging the importance of positive social and emotional experiences in learning. Both frameworks promote inclusivity and respect for diversity, recognizing and valuing the unique identity, culture, and background of each child or student.

These social-emotional skills play a crucial role in a child’s overall development, shaping their ability to build relationships, regulate emotions, and navigate social situations.

The New Zealand curriculum Key competencies and Te Whariki learning dispositions are:

NZ Curriculum Key Competencies Te Whariki Learning Dispositions
Relating to others Trusting
Managing self    Perseverance / responsibility
Thinking  Curiosity
Using language  Express themselves
Relating to others  Courage

Fostering these social-emotional skills in young children is essential for their well-being and success in various aspects of life. Parents, caregivers, and educators can support this development through positive role modelling, creating a supportive environment, and offering opportunities for social interactions and emotional expression.

Families play a crucial role in laying the foundation for social-emotional development. Parents and caregivers provide the earliest and most influential experiences for children, shaping their understanding of emotions, relationships, and self-regulation.

Schools and ECEs are essential settings for teaching social-emotional skills. It is important for teachers to integrate these skills into the curriculum, create a positive and inclusive classroom environment, and model appropriate social behaviours.

Explicitly teaching social-emotional skills to young children is really important. While some aspects of social-emotional development occur naturally through everyday experiences, intentional instruction and guidance can significantly enhance a child’s ability to understand and manage their emotions, build positive relationships, and navigate social situations.

Social-emotional skills provide a foundation for academic success. Children who can regulate their emotions, communicate effectively, and work well with others are better equipped to engage in learning and succeed in the classroom.

Explicit teaching of social-emotional skills helps children learn how to manage their behaviour and prevent behavioural issues. Young children may struggle with understanding and managing their emotions. Explicit teaching helps them recognize different emotions, understand the causes and effects of those emotions, and develop strategies for emotional regulation. Understanding these emotions and developing self-control are essential components in preventing and resolving conflicts, both in and out of the classroom. When children have the tools to express themselves and navigate social situations, the likelihood of challenging behaviours decreases. They learn how to express their needs, listen to others, and find solutions to problems, fostering a positive and cooperative social environment. When children understand and appreciate their own emotions and qualities, they are more likely to develop a healthy self-esteem.

Teaching children about empathy, perspective-taking, and effective communication helps them develop healthy relationships through positive connections with peers, teachers, and family members.

Children who are taught to think critically and find solutions to challenges can apply these skills to various aspects of their lives. This also contributes to the development of resilience and coping mechanisms. Children learn to bounce back from setbacks, adapt to change, and cope with stressors more effectively.

Social-emotional skills are life skills that extend beyond the classroom. They are crucial for success in various aspects of life, including relationships, work, and community involvement.