Early Childhood Education

Early Childhood Education

You can build on the learning your child is gaining at home by enrolling them in early learning services. When choosing an early childhood education service, think about what's important for you and what will work best for you and your child.

Key points to remember about early childhood education

  • in New Zealand, there are a variety of early childhood education services catering for the different needs of families/whānau
  • each service works differently depending on the type of service you choose 
  • children learn lots of new skills by participating in early childhood education, building on the skills they learn at home and from their families/whānau

What are the benefits of early childhood education?

Research shows that children who are involved in quality early childhood education (ECE) benefit in many ways, and that these benefits also extend to their family/whānau and the wider community.

Taking part in ECE builds a strong foundation for your child's ongoing education, learning and development. Children learn lots of new skills by participating in ECE, building on the skills they learn at home and from their families/whānau.

Te Whāriki is the curriculum framework for the ECE sector. It covers the education and care of children from birth to school age. New Zealand ECE services use Te Whāriki to guide children's learning opportunities.

You can read more about the benefits of early childhood education on the Ministry of Education website - see 'External links and downloads' at the bottom of this page.

How can I choose an early childhood education service for my child?

For more information on early childhood education services, see the external links and downloads section below.

In New Zealand, there is a variety of early childhood education (ECE) services for families/whānau to choose from. Each service works differently depending on the type of service you choose.

When choosing a service, think about the location and what services are available in your local area.  It's also important to think about operating hours, cost, parent involvement and the style of care or education that works best for you and your child. To find an ECE service in your area you could:

  • do a web search for ECE services
  • visit services in your area
  • talk to other parents, family/whānau and neighbours
  • talk to your doctor, health professional or Plunket nurse
  • contact your local Ministry of Education office

Early learning services available in New Zealand include:

  • Kōhanga Reo
  • kindergartens
  • education and care centres
  • in-home care
  • Montessori
  • Rudolf Steiner
  • Playcentre
  • playgroups
  • Ngā Puna Kōhungahunga (Māori-focused playgroups)
  • Pacific Island-focused playgroups
  • Early Childhood Service of The Correspondence School

Once you have decided which ECE service you are interested in, arrange a visit so you can ask all the questions you need and get a feel for the service. If you like the service, you may want to arrange more than one visit with your child.

Can I get the Childcare Subsidy?

The Childcare Subsidy can help families whose income is below a certain level. It contributes to childcare costs. 

For more information, phone Work and Income on 0800 559 009.

20 Hours ECE

The government subsidises all children who attend ECE.  

The 20 hours free scheme is a higher funding subsidy. 3, 4 and 5-year old children can go to an early childhood education (ECE) service or Kōhanga Reo that offers the scheme for up to 6 hours a day, 20 hours a week with no fees.

Your child's early learning service or Kōhanga Reo may have a minimum number of hours or days of enrolment as part of their policy.

How can I be more involved in my young child's learning?

You play an important part in supporting your young child's learning.

To help you do this there is information about how your child learns and tips on how you can support their learning through interactive, fun, easy, everyday activities that you can do at home, and while out and about - from birth until they start school. 

Playing with your baby, toddler or young child is one of the best things you can do to support their learning.

You can read more about how you can support learning at home on the Ministry of Education's website - see 'External links and downloads' below.

    This page last reviewed 05 August 2020.
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