The Kiwi Parent Guide to Early Childhood Education

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The Kiwi Parent Guide to Early Childhood Education is for anyone considering using an early childhood service for the first time or changing their current childcare arrangement.

Every parent has worries about leaving their baby or young child in the care of people they don’t know. It is instinct for parents to want their child to receive good care and be with people they feel secure with. An educational environment is also important – it is a necessity and not a luxury especially if children are spending more than a few hours a day in care. The reason why this is so, is the enormous development that takes place in the early years of a child’s life. By the time children start school, they have already acquired language and other skills and formed attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours.

It is therefore important to get your ducks in a row before choosing a service and leaving your child.  You also need to know what to expect and what to do if things are not going well.

In this Guide is information on different service options, what quality looks like, how to go about making your selection and a checklist, the enrolment and starting process, what you can reasonably expect from any early childhood service, and how to tell if something is going wrong and what to do if it is. You are welcome to print a copy of the Kiwi Parent Guide to Early Childhood Education for your own personal use. But anyone wishing to print or distribute multiple copies must contact us for permission first. 


Section 1: Options
What is an Early Childhood Education Service?
Who Can Provide an Early Childhood Education Service?
What is the Difference Between an ‘Early Learning’ and an ‘Education’ Service?
Who can Work in ECE?
The Early Childhood Services Available
Personal Options for Your Child’s Care
Does Going to ECE Give Children an Academic Advantage at School?
How Many Hours of Participation in ECE are Optimal?
What Children Need
What Parents Want

Section 2: Choices to Make and Choosing
Does How the Service Conduct Itself Matter?
Does the Quality of the ECE Service Matter?
The Formula for Remarkable Quality Early Childhood Education
Factors that May, or May Not, be Important to You
Beginning your Search and Making Your Selection
Checklist for Choosing an Early Childhood Education Service

Section 3: What to Expect
Enrolling and Getting Ready
Fees, Funding, and Financial Assistance
The Early Childhood Education Curriculum
The Primary Caregiver or Key Teacher System
Starting and Settling-In

Section 4: Looking Out for Your Child and Speaking Up
Children’s Rights
What Goes on When You are Not at the Service
Regulatory Requirements and How the Compliance System Works
Making a Complaint
Parents’ Positive Experiences of ECE

7 Steps to Finding a Good ECE Service

  1. First read this guide.
  2. Then make a list of your non-negotiables, such as how far you are prepared to travel for a good ECE service, and if you want your child to be with lots of other children or at a smaller boutique centre or home setting.
  3. Go to the National Register of ECE Services for the names and addresses of services in your area, compare the features of these, and create a short-list of the services that appeal to you most.
  4. Visit each service on your list. Use the My ECE Checklist (it’s on page 13) during the visits so you will remember to ask and check on the things that are important.
  5. When you have completed the visits, compare your findings for each service and choose the service that you are most happy with and that meets most, or all, of the Checklist items. If none are suitable then go back to the National Register and broaden your search. 
  6. Before your child’s first day, re-familiarise yourself with the guidance provided in Section 3 on “what to expect”.
  7. Two to three weeks after your child starts, evaluate how it is going and re-familiarise yourself with the guidance in Section 4 on “looking out for your child and speaking-up”.


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Join the Parents Council

Are you are parent, grandparent, or caregiver of a child under 6 years?    

Join the ECE Parents Council.   You will receive:

  • A monthly newsletter (free)
  • Survey invitations and notifications of important changes in ECE

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