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March 24, 2011 | by  | in Online Only | [ssba]

Young Mama – My child is at…

This week, I have two posts. This one primarily relates to something most of you will find incredibly dull, so I gave it an exciting name and tried to make it sound like a 60s quiz show… but feel free to skip to the other posts. I won’t notice. I don’t yet have a tracking system in your internet browser.

“Where did I hide my daughter this year?”

This is a bit of an encyclopedia of common terms for child care and education, mostly up to 5 years. It’s amazing how confused even parents get.

“My child is at…”

Creche: Where you pay to put your children while you go to work. It will usually not have more than 16 children under 2 years old, by law, and there has to be a minimum of one carer to every 3 children. They will usually have children over the age of 2 as well, in a semi separate part, where there has to be a minimum of 4 children to every carer. Many or most carers will have a university degree in childcare.

Home with the nanny: Nannies will usually come to your home and look after your child, as well as maintain the house- that is, if they make a mess, they will generally clean it up. They will use your food to feed the child and sometimes cook dinner or similar for the family- it depends on the nanny.

An in-home educator’s house: In-home educators have to sit a training course, which is usually about eight weeks part time. You will have dropped the child off at their house, usually provided the food your child will eat, and they will have a maximum of four children- no more than 3 under 2 years old.

A babysitter’s: generally they will come to you, not have a qualification, and may not have regular hours. Usually a babysitter is an informal care arrangement, where the others require registration with the Government. If a ‘babysitter’ is earning over a set amount per week, or has more than a few children regularly who aren’t their own, then they may be reported and have the Government knocking on their door- they are running an illegal creche!

Kindergarten: most kindergartens begin taking children at 2 years old (or when they are mature enough, and steady on their legs- depends on policy). Often they are free or substantially cheaper than other forms of care. They will often separate out into mornings for 2-3 year olds, and afternoons for 3-5 year olds. Kindergarten is optional but highly recommended, and was initially designed to prepare children for primary school. There’s no curriculum as such but a set of formal requirements- eg, they are still Early Childhood Education providers and as such have to include some Maori culture and language, and try to scaffold (assist) learning in ways relevant to each child’s development. Parents are often required to attend with their child at least once a week, and the child may go 2-5 times a week, it depends from place to place.

Preschool: This may be a kindergarten, Montessori, or Rudolf Steiner, (the last two have different learning philosophies and methods) based centre. Parents generally pay for these services, the term itself doesn’t refer to any specific type of learning or centre in New Zealand, but does usually refer to some form of education for children 2-5 years old.

Nursery: Usually in terms of childcare this refers to a place for children legally under the age of 2 but usually under the age of 18 months (usually who don’t speak or walk yet). So, your child may be at the nursery, which is within creche, for example.

SPACE or Playcentre: This is a childcare centre focussed on giving parents the skills to help their child learn from birth. Parents stay with their child, and are taught how to maximise every learning opportunity they have, which supposedly will aid development. It is great for babies under 10 months, in my opinion, because often parents are at a loss as to how to interact with a young baby. You generally pay for this service and it is generally once a week.

Mother’s group: This is a group of stay at home parents who get together, either at a cafe or home, drink coffee, eat biscuits, and let their children run amok I mean play with each other. These are often set up by Plunket or an antenatal class about a month after the child is born, and is great for the parents, as well as important first socialisation for the children. (Yes, I know the term is sexist, but that’s what it’s called and after a year of helping run them- I haven’t seen a man yet. Sorry people.)

Playgroup: Mother’s group usually becomes playgroup once the children reach an age where houses or cafes are destroyed by a bunch of mobile children. Some are set up by organisations but they rarely cost and are just friends meeting. It is more often at a playground, Te Papa, or similar. Again, hugely important for a parent’s sanity- generally a stay at home parent, or parent of a young child, will have a load of “is this normal?” questions, and be quite lonely, hanging out with a child who can’t have adult conversations!

Music and Movement/Rock ‘n’ Rhyme, or similar: Children love, well, music, and movement, from an early age (read: pre-birth!). These are usually organised by church groups or the local library and are a lot of fun for the kids but often quite awkward for the parents, who get to sing loudly and do things they’ve only previously done that one time at El Horno at 2am after a bottle of tequila (this is not a paedophile joke! Dancing and singing, get your mind out of the gutter!).

My personal opinion? Most of us will have fond memories of kindergarten, and it’s often free- out of everything listed, I will firmly recommend that every family try to get their children to one! Creche is great for very social children, in fact, I know some parents who have put their children into one solely to give them more socialisation- but you need to pick one that really suits your child and you, as they will usually have much less adult interaction, and your child needs to be very confident within themselves. In home educators are great for shy children, and are very competitively priced- your child will often get more one-on-one time, but choose a carer who your child likes well, and watch them in action. I have been an in home educator and can vouch that some creches I have looked at on their best day, are worse care than I was on my worst. I have enrolled my daughter at creche, however, and few parents could provide their child with such a wealth of fun experiences in one day than this creche on any given day. Take from that what you will- pre investigation, I had very definite ideas on what is best for children, but now I have some experience, it is clear that each family will have a different perfect situation. <3


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