The Link
Term 3 (Glamorgan Home/School Team)
The Key Competencies continued …
Using language, symbols, and texts

The key competencies are an important part of your child’s learning at school. They are included in the New Zealand Curriculum and are woven into all the teaching that takes place.
Key competencies are not just for school, but for life

In The Link from Term 1, there were ideas to support the first three of the five key competencies in the New Zealand Curriculum.
Thinking and Using Language, Symbols and Texts are the remaining two key competencies.

If our children are to become competent thinkers and users of language, symbols and texts, they need to have opportunities to learn with and from others.
Alfin Toffler pointed out last century that 21st century literacy is defined less by the ability to read and write and more by the ability to learn, unlearn and re-learn.
Technologies are changing the way we interact with the world and the way we need to understand the way we learn and change it to suit the new context. The world needs people who can think outside the square. They also need to focus on using knowledge and transfer it to deal with new and different situations.


Light bulb
This competency is about developing the sort of thinking skills that children need in the world today. They need to use creative and critical ways of thinking to make sense of information, experiences and ideas. They need to be encouraged to challenge and question, to reflect and evaluate, to seek alternative solutions and connect new information to their prior knowledge.
Things to try at home to support thinking
Talk to your child about how thinking is important to make sense of everything they do at school and at home.
– Ask your child’s teacher to explain the thinking strategies they are using at school so that you can notice and reinforce them at home. Ask the teacher what you can do to build on them at home.
– Notice and praise your child when they use different sorts of thinking, like mathematical and logical thinking, or knowing how to find flaws in thinking (such as assuming that something is true based on a few examples). This encourages them to challenge what they read and hear and to look for evidence.
– Make it fun. Playful thinking is a great way of building the brain and your child’s thinking abilities. Games of all types – make believe, imaginary friends, “what if” flights of fancy, and so on all provide opportunities for playful thinking and a chance to develop creativity.
– Encourage them to reflect on what they have been learning and how they are going. Ask them what their next learning steps might be.

Using language, symbols, and texts

The way we use language, symbols and texts is changing with new technologies and social media platforms. Mobile phones have text language. The internet has its own language. We source information using specific key words.
This competency is about the different ways to communicate and understand information, experiences and ideas. Use opportunities to explain and discuss how signs and symbols are represented.
Things to try at home
– Check whether your child understands the meaning in different types of texts or languages. If they tell you that something “is” so, ask them how they know, or what makes them think that. This can help them think about other possibilities, which is what the teachers do at school as well.
– When you flick though the junk mail or watch television together, talk about the language the advertisers have used to make you want to buy their products. Encourage your child to think about how the language makes the advertising claims believable, and what information they leave out and what that also tells us
– Comment when you see a symbol used in a new way, or the same symbol used to mean different things in different contexts. Talk about who might have “invented” each use, and why. For example, the @ sign so widely used now for e-mail addresses used to mean “and the cost is” – “three packages @ $2 = $6 total”.

References: TKI M of Ed Key Competencies and a Curriculum for the 21st Century/A. Simmons