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Belinda's kids - Early learning - 7 Mar

Attending an early childhood education (ECE) service supports your young child's learning.  You are your child's first teacher and you can further improve your child's learning when you also give them education away from home at an ECE service.

When do children start learning?

Children learn right from the beginning about the most important things that help them grow through their whole lives.  To learn best children need:

  • love and warmth
  • lots of talking and listening
  • guidance and understanding
  • limits and boundaries
  • consistency and consequences
  • structure and security.

What do children learn at an ECE service?

At an ECE service children learn how to:

  • interact with new people and form relationships
  • trust other adults and children
  • play and learn with people outside their immediate family
  • take turns and negotiate
  • take part in learning experiences in a group
  • ask questions and find out more
  • see themselves as 'learners'.

These types of skills, along with ones learnt at home, help children become healthy, happy and capable people. 

How is an ECE service qualified to help my child?

Research in New Zealand and other countries has identified that when teachers, parents and families/whanau are educated and understand about young children's learning, they are more effective for children's early learning.

  • All teacher-led early childhood education services must have staff members who have studied and are qualified to work with children and support their early learning and development.  Many services have staff members who are working and studying at the same time. 
  • All parent-led services have some qualified parents and family/whanau working alongside their children to support their learning.  Some parents and family/whanau are also studying about children's learning and development.

Team up with your ECE Service

Your child will learn best when the learning and experiences they have at home are similar to the learning at their ECE service.  Talk to your child's teachers, there are many ways that both you and the teachers can support your child's learning, including:

  • sharing news about what has happened at home and at the service
  • bringing special treasures/taonga from home to share
  • having your child make things at the service that they can bring home
  • sharing photographs between the ECE service and home - of special people, important events and every-day learning
  • parents learning more about how the ECE service runs
  • teachers learning more about the wider families/whanau and communities that are part of your child's life
  • everyone learning more about how children learn and develop.

How do ECE centres share what children learn with their parents?

There are many different ways of sharing examples of your child's learning with you.  Some ECE centres have digital cameras and web cameras set up, and children choose what to take pictures of and parents can see what has been happening.  All ECE centres collect examples of children's work and play, sometimes in a book or portfolio, and write about what children are learning, to share with parents.

Choosing an ECE service

Some time during the first four years of your child's life you may be thinking about how to choose an early childhood education service. Check out what to think about when choosing an ECE service.

For further information about ECE services in your area, check out the ECE Listing, the local phone book or the yellow pages to find contact numbers, or ask friends, family or your plunket nurse.  Also see the Ministry of Education's Early Childhood Education website.