Self Determined Learning

Self Determined Learning at Te Manawa ō Pāpāmoa

"Self-determination theory suggests that children have an innate propensity toward mastery of their environment, and that the internalization of values, behaviours, and attitudes in the social surround is a spontaneous, natural process" (Ryan, 1995).

Self Determined Learning at Te Manawa ō Pāpāmoa School enables our kaimanawa to developmentally drive their own passions, interests and strengths from Learning through Play;  to Passion Projects; to Inquiry Learning; through to Design Thinking.

Each Āko Hapori provides a variety of provocations and invitations for our kaimanawa to engage in each day. Put simply, provocations provoke and invitations invite! They will provoke thoughts, discussions, questions, interests, creativity and ideas. Our kaimanawa develop and reflect on their Manawatanga ( Kaha, Taruna, Manaaki, Auaha, Pākiki) development skills during this time.

Learning through play

Learning through Play has been introduced to meet the developmental needs we identify in our kaimanawa- particularly oral language and social and emotional regulation.  

Research also shows our kaimanawa have "urges"  to; imagine, construct, roll, order, rotate, climb, build, gather, transport, role play, transform, dig and bury, investigate, envelope, and throw. 

Through play, we want our kaimanawa to develop the ability to.:                                                            

Think creatively

Problem solve

Self manage and regulate

Make decisions that support theirs and others learning 

Follow their passions & interests

Take responsibility for their learning

Explore and try new things

Communicate thoughts and feelings effectively 


Develop fine and gross motor skills 

What will this look like in our Āko Hapori?

Allowing our kaimanawa to guide their own play / learning and follow their developmental urges. Therefore learning through play takes many different forms depending on the developmental stage of each student. They are the precursor to inquiry learning and can expand on a thought, project, idea and interest.  Some examples of where this might lead here at Te Manawa ō Pāpāmoa are; passion projects, Empower Hour, Design Thinking and Community Projects or Social Actions

What is the role of the kaiako (teacher) during play? 


Teaching through play ‘...incorporates adult-scaffolded learning objectives but remains child-directed’.  

Weisberg et al. in a discussion about free and directed play (2013).

Kaiako at Te Manawa ō Pāpāmoa are responsible for setting up an environment that allows the exploration of individual interests. While one kaiako may be taking a literacy or numeracy workshop, the others will be facilitating learning through play and extending the learning when appropriate. Through effective questioning, we will encourage kaimanawa to explore, problem solve, predict, make connections and reflect. We provide choice and variety to enable kaimanawa to engage in areas of interest to them across the New Zealand Curriculum.

The skill of a kaiako in a developmental curriculum requires them to know "When to Spray" and "When to Walk Away". This simply means kaiako have a role to provoke or scaffold to support language, thinking and regulation in some situations and to step back and let our kaimanawa to lead, inquire, problem solve and reflect on their experience.

Notice - Observe the kaimanawa’s play. What are you noticing?

Recognise - Why are you recognising it? Determine the play needs. How much support is needed in the play? What are the learning needs? Where do you fit? Or do you fit?

Respond - How are you going to respond to it? How does this link to their oral language, social/emotional development or Manawatanga goals? How do we capture this growth?