What to look for in an Early Childhood Centre
Choosing an early childhood centre for your child can be a difficult task. New Zealand has some of the world's best early childhood education, but not all centres are up to the same standard. What makes a good centre? We've put together an extensive list of factors to consider when visiting prospective centres. We recommend visiting at least three centres before choosing the one that's right for you and your family.
1. Days and Hours
Do the hours of operation suit you and your family?
See the Fee Schedule included in your Enrolment Pack for hours of operation.
Do the centre closure dates suit your family’s needs?
At New Shoots we are closed on statutory holidays only. We remain open throughout school holidays and the Christmas period.
2. Fees and Associated Costs
Do the fees and additional costs meet your budget and relate to the quality of the teaching staff, resources and environment?
See the Fee Schedule included in your Enrolment Pack. Upon enrolment your child will receive their starting pack.
Is the billing system clear and easy to understand?
At New Shoots fee payment is due upon enrolment, then by the Friday of your child’s first week and every consecutive Friday. Fees must be paid at least one week in advance by direct credit.
Is there a sibling discount available?
At New Shoots we offer a 10% discount to families with two or more children enrolled full time.
3. Group Sizes and Ratios (teacher : child)
Maximum group size of 12-16 children
Maximum group size of 15-25 children
Maximum group size of 20-28 children
4. Food and Nutrition
Talk to the person showing you around about the centre menu
Are all meals provided and is this included in the fees?
At New Shoots all meals are provided and included in the fees.
Is the food provided nutritious, cooked on site and does the centre have the Healthy Heart approval?
All food provided at New Shoots is fresh, locally sourced, free from preservatives and processed food and has the Healthy Heart approval. See your Enrolment Pack for a sample menu.
Is the centre accommodating of children’s food requirements?
At New Shoots our cooks will adapt any meal to ensure your child’s dietary requirements are met including allergies, intolerances, cultural requirements and introducing infants to solids.
5. Children’s Routines
Talk to the person showing you around about the children’s routines
Are infants on individual routines determined by their parent or caregiver?
At New Shoots all infant routines are child specific and discussed with parents regularly.
Are children required to sleep? Does this meet your child’s needs?
At New Shoots all sleep requirements will be discussed with the child’s parent or caregiver.
6. Health and Safety
Talk to the person showing you around about their Health and Safety systems
Is there a clearly defined occupational health and safety system in place?
Talk to the Centre Director about the New Shoots OH&S system.
Is there a clearly defined policy for sick children that outlines when children will be excluded from the centre?
See our Accident, Incident and Sickness Policy and Infectious Disease Exclusion Procedure included in your Enrolment Pack.
Is there a clearly defined policy for children requiring medication?
See our Administration of Medicine Policy included in your Enrolment Pack.
Are there clear procedures in place for handling a disaster?
See our Civil Defence and Emergency Policy available from reception. This includes procedures in case of fire, earthquake, tsunami, intruders, etc.
Are there sign-in and sign-out sheets?
At New Shoots all visitors and contractors are required to sign in and out to ensure the safety of the children at all times.
Is there a clear release policy of who may pick up my child?
At New Shoots we will only release your child to parents or caregivers stated on the enrolment form or those agreed otherwise.
Are the doors secure so that strangers cannot access the building freely?
At New Shoots the front doors are securely monitored through pin pad access and/or a full-time receptionist to ensure the children’s safety.
Are the resources and equipment cleaned regularly?
At New Shoots all resources and equipment are cleaned and sanitised weekly or as required. We use VIPCARE’s Zoono products - this is a safe, nontoxic surface and textile cleaner that continues protecting surfaces for up to 30 days and textiles over 20 washes. Talk to the Centre Director for more information on the VIPCARE products.
7. The Resources
Observe the room, the way it is set up and the level of resources available
Are the resources and activities age-appropriate and well maintained?
At New Shoots we source our own resources to ensure quality and variety is maintained. Resource materials and manufacturing is considered carefully to ensure the integrity of our philosophy. See our New Shoots Educational Resources catalogue for more information.
Is the centre adequately resourced to encourage a variety of learning experiences and presented in a manner that is inviting for children?
At New Shoots the environment is set to support the Pikler approach and Howard Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences. This encourages children to think, learn and develop their personal strengths and interests. You will notice the defined areas of play in the Preschool Rooms especially- writing and literacy, science, art, restful reading, block, imaginative and outdoor.
How is technology integrated into the programme?
At New Shoots we use iPads, iPods and laptops with the children as a learning tool and for creating learning stories about your child’s developmental progress. Educa is an online portal that allows parents and caregivers to keep up to date with your child’s learning and development. See your Enrolment Pack or talk to our teachers for more information.
7. Children, Teachers and Philosophy
Observe the children and teachers in their environment
Does the centre have a clear vision or philosophy for children, is this evident in the centre and can the teaching staff articulate this clearly?
New Shoots Children’s Centres has evolved from our vision, values and philosophy. We believe this to be imperative for children and families. We hold children and families at the heart of our values and surrounding this is; a place that feels right, innovation based on new ideas and research, a fun and exciting place to be, local and community focused, a positive impact. Read more about the New Shoots Vision and Curriculum included in your Enrolment Pack or talk to the teachers.
Do the teachers make you and your child feel welcome?
At New Shoots it is important to us that all children have a sense of belonging and feel comfortable and confident within their environment.
Do the teachers seem interested in getting to know your child and does he/ she enjoy the activities and experiences?
At New Shoots we believe it is imperative for every child’s learning and development that relationships between teachers, teachers and children and teachers and families are nurtured and developed.
Are the children and teachers interacting with one another in a positive manner?
At New Shoots we believe it is important for teachers to provide a warm, encouraging and supportive environment for children. Professional development is provided to continually improve teaching practice.
Are the children happy and engaged in their chosen activities?
At New Shoots the programme is developed around individual and group interests. The level of engagement and learning development is proven to increase if the topic has stemmed from the child’s own personal interest.
Is the environment calm and settled?
Children do cry and conflicts do happen but at New Shoots our teachers are trained to ensure any issues are recognised and dealt with correctly. Professional development for our teachers is held regularly to ensure they are equipped with the relevant strategies to ensure the environment is calm and settled.
Are the teachers enthusiastic, working well together and ensuring the children are well supervised at all times?
Do you feel comfortable with the way children are disciplined, comforted and supported by teachers at the centre?
At New Shoots we believe children need positive guidance to teach and discipline effectively. See our Positive Guidance Policy included in your Enrolment Pack and talk to our teachers about strategies they use.
8. The Environment
Observe the children and teachers in their environment
Can the children move freely between indoors and outdoors?
It is important to us at New Shoots that the outdoor environment can be accessed at all times as this is a space where children can test their internal and external strength crucial for their intellectual, social, physical and emotional development.
Do the children have a selection of play equipment to choose from that suits their interests and abilities?
At New Shoots our programmes are developed around children’s interests. We believe it is imperative that the areas of play reflect this to ensure children are engaged and developing to their full potential.
Does the environment lead to a range of experiences and opportunities that interest, engage and challenge children?
At New Shoots our Best Practice Procedure ensures that children can experience a wide range of opportunities like wet and messy play, quiet play, active play and creative play at all times.
Is the environment well maintained and presented with care?
At New Shoots we believe that the way the environment is presented is fundamental to children’s development. The environment is considered a teaching tool to encourage children to explore, think and learn.
There are New Shoots Children's Centres around Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty.
We would love to meet you and your child.
Our website is a great place to start to get to know us. You can:
- Find the centre nearest you
- Contact us to organise a visit
- Discover our curriculum, vision and foundation principles
- Check out our 'A Day in the Life' scale, where you can see what your child might get up to during the day with us.
We love what we do, and we look forward to welcoming you into our community!