A Brief Historical Overview of Curriculum in Early Childhood Care and Education

  • Jenny RitchieEmail author
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Across time and national boundaries, infants and young children grow and learn, mastering such huge accomplishments as mobility, language, and socialization within their particular cultural milieu. This chapter traces trajectories of early childhood education curriculum, firstly identifying some of the key European theorists who informed and invented curriculum and pedagogical systems for young children. It then considers how a curriculum of “guided participation” is enacted via informal education processes in traditional communities such as those of the Māori in New Zealand, in the 1930s, and Pukapuka in the northern Cook Islands, in the 1970s. Lastly, it provides some examples of a range of particularly influential curricula, some of which have intentionally worked toward countering dominant, universalizing western discourses. These include Montessori, Reggio Emilia, developmentally appropriate practice (DAP), Te Whāriki, Te Kōhanga Reo, the anti-bias curriculum, and outdoor early education programs. The chapter concludes by suggesting that there is much that can be learned from the study of the strengths and contributions of these various programs, historically and currently, which can inform our decisions about early childhood care and education which will sustain children, families, communities, and our planet, into the future.


Early childhood Curriculum Guided participation Countering dominant discourses 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Te Herenga Waka Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

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