Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Middle Eastern Children in New Zealand Early Childhood Centres: Parental Expectations, Teacher Practices, and Children’s Experiences

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posted on 2022-04-11, 22:18 authored by Fatemeh Irajzad

This is the first systematic study of the experiences of Middle Eastern children and their parents in the context of New Zealand early childhood centres. Using a two-phase sequential mixed-method approach involving an online questionnaire sent to Middle Eastern parents across New Zealand followed by four qualitative case studies, I investigated: Middle Eastern parents’ expectations for their children’s early education; early childhood teachers’ practices and perspectives with respect to Middle Eastern families; and the challenges faced by Middle Eastern children in New Zealand early childhood centres. Using descriptive statistics and thematic analysis, and drawing on constructs from hybridity theory (Bhabha, 1994), critical multiculturalism (May & Sleeter, 2010), and funds of knowledge (González et al., 2006), I argue that there is a lack of congruence between the early childhood discourses promoted by the New Zealand teachers and Middle Eastern parents’ expectations for their children’s early education. Interviews indicated that Middle Eastern parents’ expectations were often dismissed and silenced while the dominant early childhood discourses were reinforced by teachers, indicating that some of the teachers were not prepared, or knowledgeable about how, to embrace Middle Eastern families’ funds of knowledge. Additionally, teachers had different approaches for accommodating Middle Eastern families’ needs. While some teachers were keen to learn about Middle Eastern families and implement practices that were reflective of their individual needs, there were teachers who expressed essentialised views and perceived Middle Eastern families as a homogenous group with similar needs. My findings also show that Middle Eastern children at times struggled to express themselves in English and teachers adopted specific practices to support children in this regard. While most of these practices helped children develop linguistic and social competence, some social competencies promoted by the teachers – such as ways of responding to peer conflict – were incongruent with the families’ practices. Possible implications for early childhood pedagogy are suggested to meet the needs of increasingly ethnically and culturally diverse early childhood educational contexts.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

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Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education


Dalli, Carmen; Skerrett, Mere