Part two: How do I choose?

Things to consider

Think about what is important to you and your family and what you think will be best for your child’s education and wellbeing. Explore early learning options near you, research online, look in your newspaper, or ask other whānau members, parents and neighbours about their experiences.

Some of your decisions may be based on practical issues such as:

  • cost
  • how close it is
  • the hours the service is open
  • whether you can get there easily.

Visiting a service

  • Visit several services to find one that suits you andyour child.
  • Ask for the person in charge so you can askquestions.

When you visit the service take your child with you and look at what’s going on in the service and how your child reacts.

Feel free to visit a service more than once – each time you can learn a little more. It is good to talk to the staff and ask about anything you want to know. You may like to talk to other children and parents and join in with what they are doing.

Things to think about when you visit a service

  • How welcome do you feel?
  • Are adults and children kind to, and respectfulof each other?
  • Do the children seem content and absorbed intheir tasks?
  • What is available for children’s play and learning?
  • Do you and your child like the indoor andoutdoor spaces?
  • Are there opportunities for challenge?
  • How many children are enrolled and will this beoverwhelming for your child

Questions you could ask

If your child is a baby or toddler:

  • Is a primary caregiver assigned to babies and/ortoddlers?
  • What is the staff to child ratio for babies and/ortoddlers?
  • If your child is breastfed, is this encouraged andsupported and if so how?
  • How are babies fed at meal times?

If you are looking for a service that can support your child’s identity, language and culture:

  • Will the service celebrate and support your child asa bilingual learner, and if so how?
  • Are there teachers or adults that share thelanguage/s your child speaks at home?
  • Are there conversations held in the language/s thatyour child speaks at home between children andchildren, or adults and children?
  • Are there examples of labelling, pictures, playequipment etc that reflects the written languageand culture of your family and other familiesenrolled in the centre?

If your child requires support for special education needs you may also wish to ask:

  • What experience do the teachers and adults have in supporting children with similar needs to your child?
  • How will teachers and/or adults engage with the things your child is passionate about? 
  • How will teachers and/or adults ensure your child is welcomed by the other children and can learn alongside them? 
  • If relevant, what experience have other parents of children with special education needs had with the service? 
  • Is there suitable access to rooms and toilet facilities? 
  • What are the grounds like eg level, or steep and uneven? 
  • Is there good off-street parking for easy access? 
  • Is the service close to anything that may cause noise distractions, such as an airport or main road?

How much does it cost?

ECE services and kōhanga reo are able to receive government funding for up to six hours a day (a maximum total of 30 hours per week) for all enrolled babies and children. Additional fees might also be charged by an ECE service or kōhanga reo and the amount will vary.

20 Hours ECE

20 Hours ECE funding is a higher rate of funding and means that parents can’t be charged fees for these 20 hours.

Most ECE services and kōhanga reo offer 20 Hours ECE, your child will be eligible if:

  • they are aged between three and five 
  • you have completed the ’20 Hours ECE Attestation’ section on your child’s enrolment form.

If your child attends more than one ECE service you can split the 20 Hours ECE claimed but you cannot claim:

  • the same hours twice 
  • more than six hours per day or 20 hours each week in total.

Fees, donations and subsidies

ECE services and kōhanga reo:

  • can charge fees either on a daily, weekly, or sessional basis 
  • must be able to show you how they are charging you for the hours outside of 20 Hours ECE 
  • can ask you for a donation which is voluntary and does not need to be for anything specific 
  • may request optional charges for 20 Hours ECE for specific additional features provided above the minimum regulated requirements.

Families may be entitled to the childcare subsidy administered by the Ministry of Social Development (Work and Income). For more information search online freephone 0800 559 009.

How do I get there?

Getting to and from services can be hard especially if you don’t have a car. Other options include:

  • a “walking bus” arrangement where you take turns with other parents, whānau or caregivers to walk with groups of children 
  • sharing transport and or child minding with another family 
  • some services and kōhanga reo have a bus or van to pick up children and whānau and drop them home again.

How involved can I be?

You can be as involved as much as you like in settling and participating with your child at their ECE service, kōhanga reo or playgroup. Join in, have fun and play with your child because this helps you and your child get to know the teachers and begin to feel at home there. Talk to the people there about ways you can be involved.

It is valuable to share information about your child’s interests, family history or whakapapa and culture with the service, and to take along special treasures, taonga and photographs of special people. Share news about what has happened at home, such as important family events and stories.

Some services are run by parent committees or have parents and whānau who volunteer to help during the day, or stay with their children.

A strong relationship with the service means you will be able to work together to support your child. You will find out more about how your child learns and they will get to know more about your family and the important people in your child’s life.

Your child’s service will regularly talk to you about their progress, interests, abilities and development and include you in decisions about your child. They should also give you information about the services operation and Education Review Office reports.

What if I think my child needs help?

If you would like to chat to someone about your child’s early learning and/or development, or if you think your child might need special education support you can talk to:

  • your child’s teacher, kaiako or educator
  • your doctor
  • a public health nurse
  • your iwi health authority
  • someone in your local Special Education office.

To contact your local Special Education office search online email or freephone 0800 622 222.

Content last updated: 11 December 2014