Choosing childcare

As parents, we are our children’s first teachers but chances are a time will come when we choose to share this important task with others. Often this will mean enrolling your child in an early childcare centre.

Top 10 Tips

1. There are many early learning options and services to choose from in New Zealand, which makes it easier for you to find one that suits your child.

2. Many services are teacher-led, which means 50% of the adults who educate and care for children must be qualified and registered as ECE (Early Childhood Education) teachers.

3. Other ECE services such as Te Kohanga Reo and Playcentre are parent-led, which means whānau or caregivers educate and care for the children.

4. When you’re choosing an ECE, think about what is important to you and your family and what you think will be best for your child’s education and wellbeing.

5. Talk to other family members, parents and neighbours about their experiences.

6. Some of your decisions might be based on practical issues such as cost, how close it is to home or work, opening hours and whether you can get there easily on public transport.

7. But much of your decision will probably be based on your gut instinct – how a centre feels to you and whether you and your child feel comfortable and welcome there.

8. Visit with your child and look at how they react.

9. Ask yourself: Do I feel welcome? Do the children seem happy? Are the educators interacting with the children? Does everyone look like they’re having fun?

10. If you have a baby or toddler there are some extra questions you’ll want to ask including: Is a primary caregiver assigned to babies and toddlers? What is the staff to child ratio for babies and toddlers? How are babies fed at meal times?

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