ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationInforms and works to raise standards in the ECE sector
Represents the sector
Research publisher (NZ-International Research in ECE Journal)
Supports the Parent and Whānau information service (
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Early Childhood Education - ECE

science tree investigateEarly Childhood Education National Organisation

Are you with an early childhood centre, or perhaps a home-based service? 

Maybe you are involved with a Kōhanga Reo, a Pacific Island language service, a Playcentre, an early intervention service, a Christian service, a Montessori service, or another type of amazing service kindergarten? 

There are well over 4,000 early childhood services in NZ. The largest providers/ operators of early childhood services today are:

  • Beststart
  • Te Kohanga Reo National Trust
  • Playcentre NZ
  • Auckland Kindergarten Association
  • Barnardos
  • Rainbow Group (including PORSE)
  • Provincial Education
  • Evolve Education
  • Kindercare (under same ownership as NZ Tertiary College and represented by the Early Childhood Council business lobby)

ChildForum is a non-partisan national organisation that provides leadership to the early childhood sector.

ChildForum identifies issues, asks the hard questions that others may be afraid to ask, and inspires change that benefits children, teaching staff, service owners - and society.

  • It advocates for safe and high-quality care and education for children prior to starting school.
  • It keeps members of the ECE sector, public agencies and stakeholders up-to-date and informed of issues, news, and research.
  • It supports ECE services with expert advice and articles (written in plain language) on the full range of areas including: management, funding and financial matters, policies, teaching and learning, working with families, childcare practices and child health.
  • It has the biggest knowledge base on early childhood education and care practice and policy in NZ and is continually growing the knowledge base.

Founded in 1988 to support the development of a research culture and an evidence-based approach to ECE, ChildForum expanded to become a national body and is today the go-to organisation on all matters to do with early childcare and education.

Join ChildForum as an individual or join your service for information, advice, research,to engage with others, and ask questions and learn


There are many sector sub-groups, and groups that represent particular political, financial or special interests. Some of these are:     

  • EC-Menz - men working in early childhood education national association
  • Infant Mental Health Assn Aotearoa NZ -  teacher and professional association to support healthy social mental wellbeing in infancy and early childhood 
  • NZEI Te Riu Roa - teacher and school support staff union  
  • NZ Kindergartens -  industry body of Free Kindergarten Associations
  • Home-based Association - home-based services national lobby
  • HELO - a newer home-based services national lobby group (includes the Rainbow Group: PORSE, PAUA, Home-grown kids, and Au Pair Link)
  • Montessori Association - a political partner of the Early Childhood Council and with some cross-over membership 
  • Federation of Rudolf Steiner / Waldorf Schools - schools and kindergartens that are Steiner based
  • Christian Early Childhood Association - an association of services that provide a Christian curriculum of any religious denomination
  • Early Childhood Council (ECC: formerly the Private Childcare Federation) represents the financial interests of a small number of mostly large childcare businesses such as Kindercare and the Evolve education group. 
  • Te Rito Maioha ECNZ (formerly the NZ Childcare Association) represents the financial interests of some childcare centres (mostly community based or union affiliated).  It is also an accredited private training provider of early childhood teacher training


Code of Ethical Conduct

ECE Services 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).


Informed thinking, advice, research and support

ChildForum publishes many new articles every month.  We provide information often that you are unlikely to find elsewhere.  We can save you time learning about what's happening, by summarising for you and identifying what is important for you to know.  See some of the latest early childhood news articles and opinion pieces for example.  Weekly newsletters help to keep you up-to-date with what's happening so you don't get left behind.

See also research studies on early childhood educationECE management guidance, early childhood policies and templates, information about the Ministry of Education, the Education Review Office, and teacher certification and mentoring, and financial matters such funding rates and the WINZ childcare subsidy.

Members benefit from the richness of information and networking across the sector.  


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. 

GardeningThe 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. 

The early childhood curriculum is called "Te Whāriki".  It is not like a school curriculum. It does not prescribe formal subject teaching.

It is a curriculum guideline originally published in 1996 and revised in 2017 by the New Zealand Ministry of Education. It outlines the curriculum that the Ministry of Education requires every early childhood service in NZ to follow if it is to retain its licence to operate and care for and educate children.  Learn more about the early childhood curriculum.


Early learning 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. (See a synthesis of the best evidence on the effects of childcare and influence of home background)

  • 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.  This is one reason why there is a focus on school and early childhood and school teachers working together to provide continuity and support for children transitioning to school.  

Find out more about early childhood education. Join us at ChildForum - email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for a membership application form or join online today by going to the JOIN US button at the top of this page.


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Membership Options


Who is this for?
Teachers, Eductors, Lecturers, Policy Advisors - any indivdual with an interest in ECE

$98.00 12 months from the date of joining
$60.00 6 months student-only

Choose your own personal username and password
(Note that this membership does not give access to specialist ECE Service members-only info and support) 

ECE Service Organisation

Who is this for?
Centres, home-based, hospital-based, playgroups ... established or newly licensed.

$198.00 12 months per standalone licensed service
Special rates for organisations with more than 1 licensed service

This membership gives access to professional & research materials enjoyed by individual members PLUS ECE service management area info and support. 

Library NZ-International Research
in ECE Journal Subscriber

Who is this for?
Universities, Polytechnics and organisations wishing to have online access to the NZ-Int Research in ECE journal (includes all past and current issues) 

$125.00 annual subscription, renewable in November each year

A username and password for your library users linked to your IP address.