Children, parents and whanau have rights in early education
Every early childhood education service has a legal responsibility to make sure your child is safe, well-nurtured and cared for in an environment that supports their learning and personal development needs. Early learning centres have a responsibility to provide opportunities for parents, guardians, and whānau members to be involved in decision-making concerning their children and their children’s progress and needs. It is difficult to balance children’s rights with educators’ and parents’ responsibilities. But the best operators should:
Make you welcome to spend time at the centre, and discuss concerns and take part in decision-making concerning your child
Talk to you about your child’s progress, interests, abilities and areas for development, on a regular basis
Give you access to information about your child, the operation of the service and Education Review Office reports.
More detailed information about the legal rights and responsibilities of early childhood education centres is available at the Education Review Office website www.ero.govt.nz
Can I go along for a visit an early learning service beforehand?
Yes, you’ll get a better ‘feel’ for a service and whether it’s right for your child if you visit, preferably more than once. Take your child with you and observe how he/she reacts to what’s going on. It’s best to choose a time when children are at the service and there’s plenty happening. Ask for time with the person in charge so you can ask any questions you may have.
How do I know my child is happy and doing well?
To keep in touch with how your child is doing, it’s important you talk to their educator(s) regularly and look at the information they’re collecting about your child’s learning and development. Expect to be informed on a regular basis and make sure you ask if this isn’t happening. If you have any concerns, discuss these with their educator(s). It’s also a good idea to get to know your child’s friends and their parents and to listen to what your child has to say about their day.
What formal qualifications do early learning teachers need to have?
The teachers in charge of an early learning centre must be registered teachers who hold a Diploma in Teaching (ECE) or similar qualification. Other staff in the centre may have different qualifications or experience.
What if I live in a remote area?
The Correspondence School provides learning programmes for three to five year old children who are not able to attend early childhood education centres for reasons such as living in remote areas. For more information, go to www.correspondence.school.nz
What if my child has special needs?
The Ministry of Education provides early intervention support for young children from the time that they are identified as having special education needs until they start school. For more information contact your nearest Ministry of Education Special Education office, call 0800 622 222 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
What are the problems you may encounter when children start early learning?
There is evidence that children under two are more sensitive to quality of care so choice of service is particularly important then. A lack of daytime access to a secure attachment figure can occur for instance if staff are: overworked, lacking in sensitivity, or subject to frequent turnover.
There can be problems with children’s health as they are exposed to more sickness in larger groups, and often for infants, starting at an early learning service will be a deciding factor that makes breastfeeding finish earlier than if they were in a familial setting, and so children do not have full immunity.
Another worry is that children can start externalising behavior problems and dealing with different problem behaviours as they get exposed to more different social encounters.
What if I want to be actively involved in my child’s education?
If you want to be actively involved in your child’s education, you may want to look at a parent-led ECE service such as: Playcentre, Te Kōhanga Reo, Ngā Puna Kohungahunga or Pacific Island early childhood education groups.
If I don’t want to enrol my child in a Early Learning service but want to learn more about educating them myself in the early years, where can I go?
There are several community-based programmes that will help you get involved in your child’s learning, including Family Start, Home interaction programme for parents of youngsters (HIPPY), Playcentre, Playgroups, Parents as First Teachers (PAFT), SKIP, Whānau Toko I te Ora and Atawhaingia Te Pa Harakeke.
What if I want to make a complaint?
If you’re unhappy with anything happening at the service, check with the service about their complaints process. In a licensed service this should be displayed on a notice-board beside the licence. You can also contact the Ministry of Education www.minedu.govt.nz or look up the phone number of your regional MoE office and ask to be put through to the Ministry’s early childhood team.
Where can I go for further information?
- For ideas on children’s development: www.brainwave.org.nz
- For improved physical awareness and wellbeing for children, go to the Sport Waitakere website who have active movement brochures or call 0800 22 8483.Download the Ministry of Education booklet, Choices [PDF, 7.5 MB]
- Another place with a wealth of information is the Ministry of Education’s website
- The Education Review Office has an online publication titled: Early Childhood Education: A Guide for Parents
- The Early Childhood Council www.ecc.org.nz