Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Playcentre Parents-as-Educators: Links between Background Experiences and Teaching Practice

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posted on 2023-03-14, 01:02 authored by Manning, Suzanne Louise

Playcentres are unique Aotearoa/New Zealand sessional early childhood education services which are run as parent cooperatives, where the  parents take on the role of educators in the centre. This study investigated the way parents-as-educators used their life experiences, skills and knowledges in their teaching practice. Case studies were completed for four parents-as-educators in one urban Playcentre during one 10 week school term, using observations of teaching practice and document analysis, a short questionnaire and individual interviews. Teaching practice was then described using a framework based on McWilliam, de Kruif and Zulli's (2002) four contexts of teaching. Results were analysed using Rogoff's (2003) personal, interpersonal and cultural planes of analysis and Reid and Stover's (2005) model of individual agency. The parents-as-educators primarily drew on their parenting experiences to inform their teaching practice, and were selective in applying other prior skills and knowledges, based on their current interests and passions and on specific choices about their future life paths. The utilisation of their background in their teaching practice was also influenced by their individual agency. This depended on their changing sense of belonging within the centre, on the context of the sessions which included interactions between adults and responses from the children, and on their perception of, and alignment with, Playcentre philosophy. Implications of the findings suggest that Playcentres should look for ways of empowering parents-as-educators to use their background skills and knowledges whilst respecting their choices, so that the children in the centres experience as rich a curriculum as possible. To do this Playcentre philosophy should be more openly debated. This is because the philosophy of parents and children learning together added to group cohesiveness and empowered the parents-as-educators, yet other philosophical tenets, such as child-centredness and the approach to teaching art, created tension and constrained the parents-as-educators from fully using their background in their teaching practice.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Master of Education

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Education Studies


Dalli, Carmen; Loveridge, Judith