Learning choices in early education
In Aotearoa, New Zealand we have a variety of early childhood services to choose from, and the Ministry of Education aims to supply child education that meets the demands of all working parents. Parents highly appreciate the variety of developmental and educational benefits of the services. Early Learning services can vary according to size, location, hours of operation, language of instruction and character. When thinking about choosing a service there are some questions to bear in mind, we have a ‘common questions’ section for more to think about and look for. Think about the financial cost and weigh-up if it is sustainable for your family to maintain with costs and accessibility to consider. Community and non-profit services will generally be less expensive than private services as parent participation is integral to their operation. It is always good to visit a few services to get a feel for what is available, and to talk to the educators. The Education Review Office (ERO) continually investigates permanent service’s curriculum’s so that they support infants, toddlers and young children. The Ministry of Education supports many family and community options, cultural programmes, remote learning, au pairs and nannies all in different ways. A responsive curriculum that supports infants and toddlers to become competent and confident communicators and explorers is a priority for all these services. Try the search facility on this website for early childhood services in west Auckland and visit those near your area. Below is a brief description of the different types of services available and how we have them indexed on the directory. Let us know if you think it is useful and should be expanded go other areas of Auckland as we can pass your comments on.
Service type – Centre-based:
Centre services work when both parents are income earners, and for the increasing number of mono parent families, who value and need trained staff to help with their children whilst they work. Centres give children opportunities to interact with a larger group of adults and children and can often have longer longer opening hours, depending on the service. Centre-based services may be privately owned or community run, and provide an education and care programme appropriate to the age of the children. Many aims and philosophies are reflected in the sector; for example, a centre may be run with a Montessori, Steiner or a Reggio Emila approach. Others provide for specific cultural or language needs of the local community. Centre-based services usually offer full-day or half-day (sessional) programmes. Children are enrolled on a regular basis, although sometimes casual care is available. Many centre-based services are commercially-oriented, some of which may have only 50% of staff that have qualifications, but also there are some that are small and have very high staff to children ratios – all services differ in the way they are structured. Some different learning philosophies and options here:
On-site crèches or sessional care
Service type – Community and family:
Playgroups, Playcentres, and SPACE provide informal education experiences for children who come with their parents, they are a good choice if one family member can be with children all the time, and would like to learn to support their child. Most of these services are ideal for very young children who are in their first two to three years of life and so are still forming attachment – the very close relationship between an infant and a parent or primary caregiver. As parents you are your children’s learning models, and your attitudes about education can inspire and show them the way for their own educational journey. For more in-depth information see links here:
Grandparents and extended family
Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters – HIPPY
Parents As First Teachers – PAFT
Parent support for teen parents
Service type – Home-based: Home-based childcare is at the moment one of the fastest growing components of the New Zealand early childhood learning sector. There are several types of home-based early education here:
If you would like your child in smaller group, a home-based a home-based educator and carer is a good option. Home-based education is provided in the educators private home, and the educator is often self-employed, contracted and supported by home-based education and services.
If your family move around or you work irregular hours it maybe necessary to cover and support you and your children at different times that are not office hours. Au pairs and nannies are a more flexible version of education and care in your own home.
If you would like to supplement your children’s learning at home there are two more alternatives to help parents with children at home HIPPY and PAFT. They provide parents with the information, support and encouragement needed to help their child develop optimally. This is quite helpful as a remote learning option, as well, but remember some travel will be required to meet groups and share information out of the home.HIPPY is for older children from 3 years of age and helps with transition to school, often operating into the first year of school, and PAFT is for under 3 years. More information on these:
Home-based educators and carers
Service type – Cultural: Auckland is a diverse city full of different cultures, and more than 200 ethnic groups are recorded as living here. Auckland is considered more diverse than London or Sydney, with 40 per cent of its population made up of different ethnicities. Te Reo Māori has priority and is an essential part of the early childhood curriculum called Te Whāriki which translates as ‘the mat’ which is traditionally specially woven and provides the sociocultural context weaving together children’s early learning and development. But it has become important for some cultural focused groups to include ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages), and other language groups from around the world. Because of our southern hemisphere location, Pasific and Asian heritage is also represented. There are a wide range of language-specific childcare playgroups to meet the large range of diversity in Auckland. Pacific Island immersion services, European language playgroups and services for various Asian languages and customs are being incorporated. All cultural values are incorporated within the early childhood education programme as part of our children’s wellbeing and development within the curriculum.
Ngā Puna Kōhungahunga
Te Kohanga Reo
Service type – Remote learning:
Providing professional learning to those in remote areas is a challenge. Isolation, cost and accessibility issues typically mean less opportunity to participate in the sorts of learning that urban and regional areas take for granted, but there are some options here.
Correspondence school / Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu
Mobile learning options
Service type – Sports and activities:
The directory includes many services for preschoolers that aid childrens’ physical and mental development. From music, gynmastics, to swimming and dance.