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


Latest Early Childhood Alert No. 14, 2018

Some might say that early childhood education has become or is moving more toward being a business that is all about money, growth, and the amount of child participation. 

Others might say it's about strong positive relationships, with an emphasis on quality of care, fostering a sense of belonging, and healthy attachment in children. 

At ChildForum we focus on the later because caring and service to children and families is a core value in early childhood education. A successful early childhood service is one that gets this core value or objective right. And, when you think about it - happy children, happy parents and happy families are people who will not hesitate to recommend a service to others.

Over the weekend we posted an item on the ChildForum Facebook page that discussed how early childhood education services and staffing may be affected by changes to paid parental leave that will enable more mums to have choice to spend more time at home with their babies before returning to work. You are welcome to take a look and add comments  - go to: 

In this week's newsletter we are delighted to offer positive stories that will inspire, along with information, tips and activity ideas for creating warmth, strengthening relationships, and keeping a positive social and emotional climate. 



  1. A welcoming early childhood centre that promotes a strong sense of belonging
  2. Child anxiety rates are growing
  3. The importance of laughter and humour
  4. How to identify parent-child attachment problems - and strategies teachers and services can implement to help
  5. Implementing primary caregiving in ECE services
  6. Telling parents only what they want to hear about their child's wellbeing - should we?
  7. Transition from home to ECE and helping a child to settle
  8. Becoming more father-friendly 
  9. Immigrant children and their families
  10. Making pet rocks as a fun activity and for gifts 


1. A welcoming early childhood centre that promotes a strong sense of belonging

Below-zero temperatures and a heavy snowfall would cause many early childhood centres to shut the doors and not open.  

But there are some services with environments that are designed to cope.

ChildForum’s chief executive Dr Sarah Alexander visited ZigZagZoo, an early childhood centre in central Queenstown, following a major snow fall the day before.

Dr Alexander noted three stand-out features of ZigZagZoo. First, there was no skimping on electricity to save money.

> Keep reading and learn more


2.  Child anxiety rates are growing - ECE could help rather than add to the problem 

Child psychologists are struggling to keep up with demand as the number of children with anxiety continues to increase. With a direct link between anxiety and depression, psychologists say New Zealand needs to take an urgent and preventative approach.

Children as young as three are being treated across the country.

Poverty has contributed, as has increased divorce rates, pressure for children to perform to national standards at school, and social media. Children are also growing up with role models from a generation of undiagnosed anxious parents.  

All of these reasons have contributed to the increase in children's anxiety, and that's not to mention the impact of disasters such as the Christchurch earthquake. 

Dr Sarah Alexander, chief executive of New Zealand early childhood education organisation ChildForum, has one more theory: she believes parents need more free time to spend with their kids.  

"Many children start early childhood education from six weeks of age, they might attend for 10 hours a day, five days a week," she says. 

"Children are struggling to form good bonds with parents, parents are struggling to develop parenting skills to know how to parent their young children because there's not the time there in the day any longer for parents and families and children to be together."

> View the full news item on Newshub


no stress for children - making time to relax and enjoy each others' company3. The importance of laughter and humour

One of the 7 characteristics of quality teaching in early childhood education is that teachers are "responsive to children's physical and emotional wellbeing". Creating a positive and happy climate to be in is a key part of meeting this characteristic.

Some of the things that make us laugh and giggle are: Tickles and playful games like peek-a-boo, this little piggy went to market finger-play game, and blowing raspberries on baby's tummy; jokes and riddles; just enjoying being together.

> Read more


4. How to identify parent-child attachment problems - and strategies teachers and services can implement to help

A strong attachment with an adult is as essential to a child as air, food and water.  Healthy child development is unlikely without it. The Ministry of Health reports that mental health and behavioural problems are rising across all socio-economic groups.  

What effect could stronger parent (guardian)-child attachments have on helping with such problems?

What role do early childhood services play and how can teachers and educators make a real difference in the life of child? 

> Learn more


5. Implementing primary caregiving at your service - how to do this effectively

Te Whāriki states that infants in particular should experience “unhurried and calm caregiving practices for feeding, sleeping and nappy changing.” So despite the barriers for some early childhood services, if you can implement a system of primary caregiving it is a very effective way of enhancing a child’s sense of security and wellbeing, encouraging them to develop the confidence to gain the most from their early childhood experience.

This article covers:   

  • Why teachers choose to use primary caregiving
  • Why teachers are reluctant to choose primary caregiving
  • What are the issues?
  • What can teachers do to ensure that they provide quality primary caregiving?
  • Other information and articles you may be interested in

> Go to this guidance and discussion 


6. Telling parents only what they want to hear about their child's wellbeing - Should we?

We are constantly making judgements on what information to give parents about their children and what information to withhold. But in whose best interests are we acting for when we make these judgements?

Have early childhood services unwittingly evolved a culture of telling parents only what they want to hear? What impact is this having on child well-being and on parents' ability to make informed decisions about their child's care and upbringing?

These questions and the approaches used in services are discussed. Early childhood practitioners' views on this matter are included.

> Read more about covering up the truth or not


7. Transition from home to ECE and helping a child to settle and ease the stress

Advice to share with parents and caregivers

> Article on leaving your child for the first time


8.  Becoming more father-friendly 

New Zealand families are gradually changing and men are becoming more involved in raising their children alone.

However, public realities do not reflect this state of flux as solo dads are often left on the back burner to fend for themselves with social services and the early childhood education sector unsure how to cope with this social change in our society. Social services welcome more father involvement but often disagree or are simply uncertain how to make their services more attractive or accessible to fathers.

This article discusses problems and what early childhood centres and other services can do to step up to the challenge and support and include single dads and their children.

> Read more


9. Working with immigrant children and families

Many immigrant children and parents have learning and parenting styles different from ‘New Zealanders’, posing challenges to early childhood teachers working within the NZ early childhood system. In this article Angel Chan draws on research that has identified some experiences that are common amongst immigrant parents and children.

This information can be used by professionals to lift the effectiveness of early education for immigrant children.

> Read more


10. Making pet rocks as a fun activity

For ages 2 - 102

This is a simple and fun activity to do alone or together, inside or at an outside table, to produce something that reflects the personal style of the creator. Brilliant for your imagination!

Here is

  • an outline of resources to collect and what you can use for creating pet rocks,
  • examples of different ways to make pet rocks, and
  • ideas and tips for extension

> Keep reading   


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