What might global citizenship education look like for young children?
We often think about global citizenship education in relation to older children and adults. But what about those aged 5 or 6 or even those who are under 5? What could this look like for them? Te Whāriki, the Aotearoa New Zealand early childhood curriculum, is an excellent place to start exploring this question.
The Te Whāriki curriculum has four principles:
Empowerment | Whakamana
Holistic development | Kotahitanga
Family and community | Whānau tangata
Relationships | Ngā hononga
Woven through these are the five strands:
Wellbeing | Mana atua
Belonging | Mana whenua
Contribution | Mana tangata
Communication | Mana reo
Exploration | Mana aotūroa
Global citizenship education is visible throughout these principles and strands. The curriculum says “As global citizens in a rapidly changing and increasingly connected world, children need to be adaptive, creative and resilient.” But what does this look like in practice?
The Wellbeing strand of Te Whāriki talks about children demonstrating a sense of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of others, respect for tikanga and rules about not harming others and the environment. It mentions the importance of understanding the reasons for such rules. These have clear links to the manaakitanga/caring for others and kaitiakitanga/guardianship aspects of global citizenship.
What activities might support young children to respect tikanga and rules about not harming others and the environment?
What might a sense of responsibility for their own wellbeing and that of others look like for young children? How might this vary with age?
What projects could young children be involved in that will help them develop a sense of responsibility for their world and all those in it?
Empathy is an important part of being a global citizen. The Contribution strand of Te Whāriki talks about how children learn to appreciate the points of view of others, to empathise and see themselves as a help to others. It mentions how working together for the common good develops a spirit of sharing, togetherness and reciprocity. This strand also suggests that opportunities are provided for children to talk about moral and ethical issues.
Some stories for young children that include moral and/or ethical dilemmas and other global citizenship-related themes include:
What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada
What If Everybody Did That? by Ellen Javernick and Colleen Madden
Dr Suess stories such as The Butter Battle Book, The Lorax, The Sneetches, Horton Hears a Who! and Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?
The Koroua and the Mauri Stone by Robyn Kahukiwa
The Starfish Story, adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley
What activities might support young children to develop empathy?
What projects could young children be involved in where they can work together for the common good?
How might kaiako facilitate discussions around moral and ethical issues with young children?
Without effective communication, effective global citizenship is challenging. The Communication strand of Te Whāriki mentions use of language to express feelings and attitudes, negotiate, create and retell stories, communicate information and solve problems. These are important aspects of digital citizenship. The strand also talks about the many forms that communication can take.
What activities might support young children to express their feelings and negotiate with others?
What are some of the forms that communication might take?
What projects could young children be involved in where they are involved in problem solving?
Young children learn by exploring the world around them. It is vital that this exploration includes learning to care for and respect their environment. The Exploration strand of Te Whāriki says:
“As they engage in exploration, they begin to develop attitudes and expectations that will continue to influence their learning throughout life. Diverse ways of being and knowing frame the way respect for the environment is demonstrated. Kaiako develop understandings of how children and their whānau make sense of the world and respect and appreciate the natural environment … Kaitiakitanga is integral to this.”.
What activities might support young children to develop a respect for the environment?
What are some of the forms that kaitiakitanga might take for young children?
What projects could young children be involved in where they are kaitiaki or guardians of their environment?
Hopefully, this article has given you food for thought on how young children can be involved as global citizens. Other articles will explore in more detail what global citizenship looks like within the Belonging strand and the principles of Te Whāriki.