Chinese Immigrant Children in New Zealand Early Childhood Centres
This research investigated the learning experiences of Chinese immigrant children in New Zealand early childhood centres with the aim of describing educational implications for early childhood professionals. A qualitative research approach was adopted using a multiple case study design. Eight Chinese immigrant children aged three to five years, their parents and their teachers participated in the study; the children were enrolled in six early childhood centres in a large urban area. Procedures of data gathering included child observations, and child, parent and teacher interviews. Data were analysed from phenomenological and sociocultural perspectives.
The children's learning experiences, particularly languages and interpersonal relationships, were discussed from the perspectives of sociocultural theories. The concept of a learning community contributed to the analysis which was also influenced by the notions of cultural diversity and multiculturalism.
A major theme of this research was the value of the culture of Chinese immigrant families to mediate the learning experiences of Chinese immigrant children in New Zealand early childhood centres. Familiar cultural tools and mediators provided important support for the children who were able to access them in their centres. The children's intention to drive their own learning experiences was also a salient feature. Evidence was documented that illustrated how learning and development were mediated by fulfilment of feelings of belonging, as well as the children's commitment to cross cultural boundaries. The Chinese immigrant children were active drivers of their own learning and capably negotiated and created the relationships between their family culture and that of their early childhood centre. Specific strategies they adopted to construct their own learning experiences were found to be significant in explaining the emergence of hybrid cultural tools which mediated the children's evolving development of appropriate repertoires of practice in their early childhood centres. This thesis contributes to the body of sociocultural research via the examination of children's creation of intercultural learning possibilities. It provides early childhood teachers with insights regarding how to enhance pedagogical policies, values and practices to more closely align with sociocultural frameworks, concepts of learning communities and cultural diversity. It is important that diverse cultural relations are appropriately established in the early childhood centres so that immigrant children can move between different cultures in order to generate a useful intercultural way of being for themselves.