Early Childhood Education at a distance

“It’s very rewarding to be able to study for a degree that is so relevant to my work,” says Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu (Te Kura), formerly the Correspondence School, Early Childhood Education teacher Helen McConnell.

image of helen mcconnell

A recent Master of Education (MEd) graduate, Helen’s primary focus is on early childhood distance learning, where developing and maintaining relationships with whānau and community throughout New Zealand is crucial.

“Doing the MEd supported my understanding of culturally responsive pedagogy, allowing me to make links with the Early Childhood Education (ECE) curriculum and apply it to my work at Te Kura,” says Helen. “I was able to apply an ECE lens to courses like ‘Language in the Classroom’ and ‘Educational Leadership’, which were not specifically identified as ECE courses,” she says.

Helen says she is now well equipped to help families build on literacy and language development while relating it to Te Whāriki—the national curriculum document for ECE— and introduce the concepts behind the value of te reo in early childhood.

“The Educational Psychology papers made me really enthusiastic about cultural competency and promoting positive behaviour – I’m championing that at Te Kura and hoping to upskill everyone in my team,” she says. Helen believes that in understanding and valuing the culture of the whānau and communities her team works with, they will be better equipped to provide a culturally sensitive learning environment.

And Helen’s own education journey is continuing too. She is now studying for her Doctorate of Education (EdD), where her focus is on online learning in an ECE distance learning, context. “I’m looking at how online learning fits within an ECE pedagogy - I’m really excited to explore what the future of distance ECE looks like,” she says.