ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary Education

ChildForum Office of Pre-Primary EducationLead advisor on early childhood care and education 
National membership 

Publisher of the New Zealand-International Research in Early Childhood Journal


Supporting children with additional needs - help for teachers

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caring and teaching children with additional needs - image of down syndrome childAs every child is unique in an early childhood setting, some of our children who attend will have additional needs. These could be physical differences, such as children with cerebral palsy or who are vision or hearing impaired; or it could be less visible conditions such as autism spectrum disorders or behavioural difficulties. Regardless of the type of additional needs a child has, it is important that all learners are given the support and guidance they require to engage and achieve in early childhood education.



The Ministry of Education provides Learning Support for children with additional needs on a case-by-case basis. In order to access this support, services are required to submit a request for learning support, which has been authorised by a parent or caregiver. The request with then be assessed by the Learning Support team and, if approved, the child will be put on a waiting list for learning support.

See also the information for parents on financial assistance and support for a child with learning needs.

Waiting lists for learning support can be several months depending on demand, therefore it is important to be aware that other strategies will need to be implemented whilst on the waiting list.

Note: At present, the Ministry of Education is rolling out a new model for delivering learning support. This model will focus on clusters of schools, kura, early childhood services and kōhanga reo; these clusters will include learning support coordinators who will work in conjunction with the Ministry of Education and other agencies and providers to identify support needs for the cluster areas and to suggest flexible strategies for building on good practice. One aspect of the cluster model is to provide strategies that can support whole services to implement strategies to help a wider range of learners. As this model is in its early stages, and the first stage will only be rolled out to schools and kura, it is too early to guage its effectiveness.



  1. An outline and discussion of the various struggles teachers face due to policy, funding, staffing, ... issues
  2. The various and important things teachers/ home educators can and should do to support children with additional needs
  3. What can employers or service providers do to help? 


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