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Formal Options    

There are different types of ECE services. Below is a list of the broad categories of services and a short description of each.

You also need to know that services within the categories are not all the same. For example, some centres are more like factories, organisations, or schools, while others are more like homes, have a small group size and can do many of the things that a home educator can, like going on trips to the mall and to the beach. 

There are no restrictions on where your child can attend ECE. You can choose to enrol at a service within or outside your local area.

It is possible to enrol with two or more services, providing that the enrolment at each is for different days and times.         

Home-based ECE services come in two forms. You can choose from having a nanny in your own home or taking your child to an educator’s home. Educators can care for up to 4 children under the age of 6 years at any one time in their home, and may also care for school-aged children before and after school and in the holidays. The agencies providing home-based services employ visiting teachers to check on the safety of homes, supervise educators and nannies, and liaise with families on the education and care of their child. 

Education and Care Centres go by many different names including preschool, daycare, crèche, nursery school, and learning centre. Kindergartens are under the same regulations as other centres and are no longer part of the free public education system. These centres differ in ownership, size, religion, culture, languages spoken, and approaches to care and education.  

Te Kōhanga Reo are overseen by the Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board. Kōhanga reo are unique as they also serve a very special purpose of helping to preserve the Māori language by teaching the next generation of speakers and supporting all whānau members.

Playcentres are under a national organisation and each playcentre is run by the parents and families who use it.  Parents play and learn alongside their children.

Hospital-based ECE services are for children under the age of 6 who are staying in the hospital and receiving hospital care.

Early intervention centres provide support and an education service for parents and their children who have significant disabilities or whose developmental progress is at risk. Special needs may for example include: Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, developmental dyspraxia, autism spectrum disorder and brain injury.

You may decide to use or not to use an ECE service at the present time. In any case, it’s always useful to have explored options and know what you like and what is available.

I will consider childcare when my daughter is 18 months. The number of carers per child will be the most important factor as I can see the importance of personal attention.