Early Childhood Education Network
ChildForum provides advice, information and research to teachers, trainee teachers, home-educators, play specialists, tertiary educators, policy makers and advisers, journalists and individual people both within NZ and internationally.
As NZ's own national network for early childhood education, ChildForum covers and is inclusive of all the various types of services, including
- home-based or in-home education services,
- nursery schools,
- Bilingual centres,
- Montessori and Rudolf Steiner centres,
- Christian early childhood centres,
- Pacific Island centres and language nests,
- Early intervention services,
- Kohanga Reo, and
- all early learning centres.
Code of Ethical Conduct
ECE Service Members are expected to uphold a high standard of quality that includes meeting the Code of Ethical Conduct for Early Childhood Services and upholding the Code on the Rights of Children in ECE (go to the My ECE website for copies of these two codes).
Independent Early Childhood Group
It's so good that a properly independent early childhood group exists in NZ - "ChildForum" - that puts out high quality information and analysis on a whole range of topics and issues, as well as research studies on early childhood education, ECE management guidance, early childhood policies and templates, information about the Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office, and teacher certification and mentoring with the Education Council, and financial matters such funding rates and the WINZ childcare subsidy.
Members benefit from the richness of information and networking across the sector rather than only within their particular service type or group.
Critical thinking and analytical thinking is essential for the early childhood profession and professional. Members get access to challenging and interesting articles with new articles being made available every week. Members can participate in and follow early education and childcare discussions that often do not take place elsewhere and access advice on matters that are important to them such as current pay rates for early childhood teachers.
ChildForum was never set up to and does not have as its objective political or business lobbying for any particular set of operators/ service providers or groups of people. It is independent, it has a multi-perspective approach and you can trust that ChildForum can give a bigger picture, has depth and breadth of insight and understanding, and brings the best knowledge to the table.
Below is a list of some of the many factions and groups within the early childhood sector and their purpose or primary function.
NZEI Te Riu Roa - Represents and supports teachers and support staff on industrial/ employment matters
NZ Kindergartens Inc - Provides political representation of Kindergarten Associations that control free kindergartens
Home-based Association - Represents home-based services
Montessori Association - Represents early childhood centres that support the philosophy of educator Maria Montessori
Federation of Rudolf Steiner Waldorf Schools - Represents schools and kindergartens that are Steiner based
Christian Early Childhood Association - Represents early childhood services that provide a Christian curriculum of any religious denomination
EC-Menz - represent the interests of men working in early childhood education
Early Childhood Management Groups
Playcentre Federation - Operator and manager of playcentres throughout New Zealand
Te Kohanga Reo Trust - Operator and manager of Nga Kohanga Reo
Wright Family Trust - Operator and manager of NZ's largest group of childcare and home-based services
Childcare Business Lobbyists and Training Providers
Early Childhood Council (formerly the Private Childcare Federation) representing the financial interests of some childcare centres (mostly private) and the NZ Tertiary College an accredited private provider of early childhood teacher training (owned by a principal founder of the ECC)
Te Rito Maioha ECNZ (formerly the Childcare Association) representing some childcare centres (mostly community based or union affiliated) and an accredited private training provider of early childhood teacher training
Early childhood teaching approaches
Some people think that early childhood education in NZ is about the structured teaching of numbers, reading, writing, etc, to prepare children for school
In some early childhood programmes it may mean this, but in most programmes the philosophy is that children learn through play with the guidance and support of adults.
The best start to a formal school education you can give a young child is to help the child to learn to develop independence, along with developing thinking and problem solving skills.
Things you can do to encourage a young child to develop independence include: learning to make his/her own breakfast, tidying up his/her own toys after play, carrying his her own bag, and learning to dress and undress without help.
For developing thinking and problem solving skills:
- provide puzzles for the child to practice on and add harder puzzles as the child's skill develops
- ask the child questions and together chat about possible solutions and answers, for instance how does a butterfly grow inside such a tiny cocoon?
- support the child to persevere when a task is proving hard and affirm the importance of practice as being important for obtaining success.
- help the child to expand his/her knowledge through hands-on activities and experiences. Provide lots of play-based learning opportunities, lots of discussion, fun, and engaging in a broad range of activities in the community, through travel, shopping, going on nature walks, watching a building being constructed, etc.
Early learning centre benefits
The experience of going to an early childhood centre, learning to be part of a larger group and exposure to an educational curriculum can hugely benefit children.
A child's home-background and home learning environment is something that is important to take account of when determining how much benefit is gained from attending an early childhood centre.
- If the early childhood education programme is better resourced and the learning experiences provided for children are better than what can be provided for at home then the child will be advantaged academically.
- But if the quality of the early childhood education programme is lower than that of the quality of the child's home learning environment, the child is not likely to be greatly advantaged by participating, Family background factors, including parents' education level and home learning environment has a much greater influence on children's development and achievement. Having said that, every parent and every child would want to experience a quality of ECE at least equivalent to the quality of their home setting.
Also, what a lot of people do not realise is that any learning gains a child makes by attending early childhood education can wash out really quickly depending on the primary school the child later attends and its quality.