Choosing an early childhood service for your child isn’t always an easy task for parents and caregivers. There are many decisions to make before picking the one that is just right for your child. So, what makes a quality early childhood centre? Quality is defined fundamentally relational, parents and caregivers in most cases will focus on the service of a centre and how it compares to its competitors in the marketplace.

Pre School or Childcare Service

Centre philosophy, curriculum, child ratios, session times and cost are just a few of the considerations. A centers philosophy states their beliefs and values or what they hope to provide for the children, emotionally, physically and mentally. This is where you can get a feel for what the centre represents and who they are and their commitment as teachers. In New Zealand every early childhood centre bases their programme on Te Whariki- New Zealand’s early childhood curriculum. Te Whariki is founded on the aspirations that children “grow up as competent and confident learners and communicators, healthy in mind, body, and spirit, secure in their sense of belonging and in the knowledge that they make a valued contribution to society.”

Each centre will have a unique daily layout, from a scheduled day with set times for music, art and play etc to a centre which is based solely on learning through free play both of which the centre will incorporate Te Whariki into the programme plan. Child ratios is an important factor to picking a quality centre, lower numbers of children to teachers is always going to be a better option.

It is important for caregivers and parents to ask what the ratio is within the centre. Ratios can vary considerable between centre to centre depending on the age of the children, the type of program activity, the inclusion of children with special needs, the time of day, and other factors, this is an important question to ask when choosing the right centre for your child.

Caregivers and parents are able to choose between half day sessions and full day care. Costs will also differentiate between services these are not always listed for the public to view and will depend if it a private organisation or community based. Private organizations can often have hidden costs which you might not necessarily have to pay these may be optional charges that you don’t know to opt out of. The best way to find the right centre for your child is to take the time to have a look around, and compare.

You will gain an instant feel for a place by going on a pre-visit and spending at least 20 minutes observing teacher and child interactions, how the other children appear to be settled and how well the pre school is presented is it clean, light and warm with age appropriate resources. To make this a little easier for you take a look at my-Child a fantastic search engine which provides you with the opportunity to compare online before making that trip in.


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