Types of Care

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

What's first?

First, is the decision of parent/whānau led or teacher led, as each have it’s distinct differences.

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

Parent Led options

Te Kōhanga Reo

A total immersion environment for Te reo Māori. From birth to school age, the language of communication is Māori. The daily running is overseen by Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust Board. Protecting and nurturing Te reo Māori and the Māori 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 supported by Playcentre Aotearoa. Parents are often required to participate in the education and supervision of the children, with session times and days varying from Playcentre to Playcentre. Parents may have the opportunity to formalise their teaching through NZQA should they wish. Playcentres allow parents to continue to be very much hands on with their child's learning and development. 


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.

Learning Philosophies


Some Kindergartens or education and care services choose to follow the Montessori philosophies created by Maria Montessori. The focus is on a more structured way or learning; to work alongside free play. The belief of Montessori is that you are steadily preparing the children for life 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.