Types of Care

With so many ECE options in NZ; where do you start to find what’s right for your family?

Firstly, is the decision of parent/whanau led or teacher led as each has its distinct differences.

For teacher led at least half of educators must be fully qualified with the provider holding an ECE license. In contrast, parent/whanau led care is managed by the parents/whanau and community and often will work on a roster where everyone takes a turn to provide care.

To break it down further...

Teacher Led


Daycare (Education and Care Services)

Offer both full day or session options for parents needing more flexibility, with food often included in the fees. The Ministry of Education's minimum ratios are 1:5 teachers to children under two years old and 1:10 for over twos. Centres can be privately or community owned and generally allow children to start from 3 months of age up until school age. The Early Childhood Council of New Zealand assists many of these centres nationwide with their Ministry of Education obligations.

Kindergarten or ‘Kindy’

Under the administration of a Kindergarten Association, Kindys will generally provide session based learning that might include morning, afternoon or day sessions. Children are usually accepted between the ages of 2 and 5. Kindergarten teachers must be qualified and registered Early Childhood Education teachers. They are predominantly government funded and as a result can be a cost-effective option, however they will mostly operate inside school hours; not as long as some of the other options.

Home-based care

Children are cared for either in their own home or a carer's home environment, with up to 3 other children. Children can be full or part-time; dependent on the agreement with the carer or organisation. Home-based provider headquarters will manage the relationship and provide support to both parent and carer, with a qualified ECE teacher visiting regularly to ensure a high standard of the children's well-being and learning is maintained.

Parent Led options

Te Kohanga Reo

A total immersion environment for Te Reo Maori. From birth to school age,  the language of communication is Maori. The daily running is overseen by Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board. Protecting and nurturing Te Reo Maori and the Maori culture is one of the most important objectives.


Cater for children from birth to school age and are run cooperatively by parents and member families. Playcentres are part of a regional association for management and programme support. Regional associations are managed by the New Zealand Playcentre Federation. They usual run sessions for parts of the day and require the parents to participate in the education and supervision of the children.


Playgroups are community-based groups run by parent and whānau volunteers, often run from local community halls or publicly available spaces. Sessions run for up to 4 hours usually and at least half of parents must be in attendance. Playgroups are not licensed, although can achieve certification in order to obtain government funding. The Ministry of Education provides ongoing support and training to parents and whānau.

Different Learning Philosophies


Some Kindergartens or Daycares choose to follow the Montessori philosophies created by Maria Montessori. The focus is on a more structured way or learning; rather than free play. The belief of Montessori is that you are preparing the children for school and enhancing their development with support and structure. 

Rudolf Steiner/Waldorf

Education is based on the lectures and writings of Dr Rudolf Steiner. The Steiner approach strives to develop children's intellectual, artistic and practical skills in an integrated and holistic way. The belief is that children learn themselves, and not through instruction. It is believed that this pedagogy helps children on the autistic spectrum or children who are socially withdrawn and nervous.