Saturday, 19 October 2019

WHITIANGA WEATHER

An overview of the early childhood education services available in Mercury Bay

Now that the New Year is well and truly underway and many parents of are heading back to work, it may well be worth the effort to start considering the most appropriate early childhood education service to enrol your youngest children in. A variety of options are available in Mercury Bay.

Early learning centres often have very good websites containing information about their facilities, any specific teaching philosophy they prefer and what sets them apart from other centres. They all thoroughly encourage enquiries and personal visits, so that parents can meet with staff and get a feel for their specific learning environment.

Research shows that children attending an early childhood education service experience important benefits, most notably the positive impact on their emotional, social and physical development as they interact with others of their age and gain new skills and experiences - all while being cared for in a safe and nurturing environment.

Here is a general overview of the most common types of early childhood education services that you may want to consider for your children -

  • Kindergartens - Kindergartens are staffed by registered early childhood education teachers and support staff. Traditionally kindergartens are community-based, non-profit organisations that cater for children between the ages of three and five years old. In the past, they offered part-time sessional care, with morning and afternoon sessions, but many now offer “all day” sessions (up to six hours a day). Mercury Bay Central Kids in Whitianga and Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten in Kuaotunu are two local options you can consider.
  • Childcare and education centres (preschools) - Staffed by qualified early childhood education teachers, trainees and support staff, preschools are similar to kindergartens, although they generally run for longer hours and cater to babies and toddlers as well. Local options include Peanuts, Mercury Bay Preschool and Kauri Learners in Whitianga.
  • Home-based education and care centres - These providers care for your children either in our own home or the home of the caregiver. Inspired Kindergartens is offering a home-based childcare service in Mercury Bay.
  • Te Kura Early Childhood Education Service - Known as a “correspondence school,” this is a service for families living rurally or more than 6km from the nearest early childhood education provider. Children complete activities that have been mailed to them. You record what your children say and do and send that back to the Te Kura teachers. Each activity has a specific learning goal.

Children between the ages of three and five can attend an early childhood education service for up to six hours a day, 20 hours a week, free of costs. However, you will need to check that their children are enrolled in a centre that offers this 20 hours free scheme.

A childcare subsidy is also available to help eligible families pay for their pre-school children to attend an early childhood centre. The subsidy is means-tested and depends on a family’s income. Phone Work and Income on 0800 559 009 for more information or visit www.workandincome.govt.nz.

Picture: Kindy mum Laura McInnes with her 2-year-old daughter Ada-Mae. Laura is very happy with the early learning centre Ada-Mae is attending in Whitianga.

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