Choosing a service for your child

Parents/whānau can choose from a wide variety of early childhood services, which have different philosophies and approaches to children’s learning. Educators in early childhood services should be able to explain their philosophy of teaching and learning to you, to help you make your choice.

All early childhood services should provide a safe and secure learning environment. Children should be accepted for who they are and participate in programmes that have meaning and purpose for them. Parents/whānau should be treated with respect.

There are also practical aspects to be considered including:

  • whether the service is easy for you to get to, especially in an emergency;
  • whether the hours of operation suit your needs;
  • costs and fee structure; and
  • the extent that you wish to be involved in the learning programmes.

If possible, you should visit some services with your child, talk to the educators and see how comfortable you feel in different settings. Then choose the service that best suits your child and family.

Parents visiting a service

You should always feel welcome to visit early childhood services at any time, to talk with educators about programmes, and your child’s preferences and wellbeing.

Parent/whānau involvement

There is no one ‘right way’ for parents to be involved in early childhood services. Parents should be able to choose how they are involved.

Some services, such as playcentres and kōhanga reo, are more reliant than others on parent/whānau participation in centre management and programmes. When choosing a centre, you should consider the service’s requirements for involvement and your ability to participate.

In all services you should be encouraged to contribute information about your child, so that the educators in the centre know about your child within the context of their family. If educators know about the practices, routines and experiences that happen for your child at home, they can continue these within the early childhood setting. When a child’s strengths and interests are known educators can make learning more relevant and meaningful for them. This sharing of information between home and the service is likely to enhance your child’s wellbeing and learning.