Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Practicing with Respect: What Does that Mean for Teachers Working with Infants

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posted on 2021-11-10, 11:01 authored by Christie, Toni

This qualitative case study examines the teaching practices, inspired by the Pikler approach and RIE philosophy, in one infant and toddler centre in a main city of New Zealand. Specifically the practices studied were primary caregiving, freedom of movement and respect for infants’ confidence and competence. Recommendations for practitioners are made at the conclusion of this thesis. Data were collected through non-participant observations, semistructured interviews with teachers, a focus group interview with parents, and collation and analysis of relevant documentation. The framework for data interpretation and analysis was based on a thematic coding of observations and interview data. The findings indicated that a culture of respect was embedded throughout all aspects of teachers’ interactions with children, colleagues and parents within the centre. Respect, defined as treating with consideration, was the overarching feature underpinning the values and actions of teachers. Teachers engaged in ways that would suggest they accept each person as an individual with rights and freedoms. Teachers invited children to engage with them and no action would be initiated for or with a child without his or her agreement. This agreement was shown through cues and gestures, to which the teachers were all highly attuned. Teachers slowed their pace intentionally and offered children choices in their care and education. Peaceful observation from teachers enhanced their ability to interpret individual children’s needs and wants and they would provide support for children rather than intervene unnecessarily. Limitations to this research included the fact that I only studied one early childhood centre and completed observations over a limited period of two weeks. The centre studied had ratios better than the minimum ratios required by early childhood regulations, which means


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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

Institute for Early Childhood Studies


Shuker, Mary Jane; Dalli, Carmen