Childcare options. ‘Cause I had no idea.

Lily balance
Getting confident balancing

Lily is at home with me 24/7. It’s a blessing but holy crap it can also be a pain in the ass too. What I do with her? I’m not a creative person. I lack fun, stimulating ideas. Create some collage shit? Pretend play? Bounce on the beds and couch? Obstacle courses? Go to the park? Drive around singing at the top of our lungs/my lungs? 24/7.

She needs something else. Something more stimulating than mummas voice singing to her in the Macdonalds drive-thru.

So I started looking into options for childcare. Which TBH was a silly idea as we actually can’t afford for her to go into childcare. But I found out a bit of info on different options. And my OH MY there are many options. We are very spoilt for choice here in NZ, for that I am grateful! RANT: What ever you choose for your kid, your doing so because it’s best for your family and situation. Check multiple ones out, get a feel for them and make an informed decision that works for YOU.

I went to Kindy when I was little. I can remember making pancakes and wearing a crown when I turned 5 and the card I got had a balloon attached to it which you blew up and it inflated the elephants nose. My best friends were Kowhai, Elliot and Marcy. It was called Sunbeam Kindy, in Christchurch. When we moved away from Chch, I told the kids I went to Sunbeam Kindy and they all laughed and said I was crazy. This is because the mental institute in the new town was called Sunnyside. Not a great start to my schooling life.

So here is my very non-scientific research of options for childcare. Sorry if I get it wrong, this is my interpretation of it. Please comment/share to add to the mix. And DO check out the ERO reports of centres and pop along unexpectedly one day, to see the day to day goings on. You might be pleasantly (or not) surprised!

Daycare –  Sooooooooooo many variances and options nationwide. I won’t go into all of it as it’s too vast. BUTTT 20 hours free for over 3’s. Check out the ratios for both under 2 and over 2. Privately owned OR Government. ERO reviewed. More structure/routines but still free play! Open longer hours than other options.

Preschool – Exactly as it sounds. It’s a pre-school. They prep the kids to head off to school. *Usually from the ages 3-6. Privately owned, so they set the prices and hours open. More structured play, with routines in place to prepare kids for school. ERO reviewed. Open longer hours than other options.

Homebased childcare  – (Porse , kidsathome, privately run, regional centres etc) In a caregivers house. Caregiver is either part of a larger organisation or run their own. They can set the hours they are open and the fees. I believe the maximum of kids they can look after is 4?? (2 under 2, 2 over 2) but I could be wrong, so please correct me! ERO reviewed?

Porse NZ

Kindy – Hoping Lily will head to Kindy in the future, as well as attend playcentre. *Typically run sessions for 3-4yo and then 4-5yo. *Ratios can be higher than other options, up to 1:15. Personally, I wouldn’t want my 1 year old going to a centre with that high of a ratio, as less one on one time. But when they are older, we will look into it. *Teacher is ECE trained, with parent helps on board. Education for parents is not offered.  *Drop the kids off for  more free play, based activities with some structure to the day. ERO reviewed.

Kindy NZ

Te Kohanga Reo – Maori immersion programme. Most centres are fully or partly bilingual in Te Reo. Similar to Kindy/playcentre philosophies but very Whanau based and values of Tikanga are upheld.

Te Kohanga Reo

Nanny – In your own home environment. Lucky bugger to afford a nanny! However, there is such thing as a nanny share, where you get the nanny for x amount of hours and then they go to another family. = $ shared too! Win win!

Porse offer a nanny internship, where the person is studying at the same time as looking after/learning about kids. You do have to be around a bit more often than just leaving them with the nanny full time. But great option if you are working from home and around most of the time. AND it’s cheaper.

Porse NZ

Au pair NZ

Playcentre – (This is the only one that we have encountered, hence a longer blurb). Not exactly drop ya kid off styles, although some centres do an extended session, where kids can be dropped off. Playcentre is run by the parents, so you stay on the session with your kid.

*Ratios are between 1:5 and 1:3 kids. Ages birth – 6yo

*Centres can set the donation $, between $5-$50 a term, (we pay $25), their open hours, (8.30-1.30pm) and how many sessions per week open for (Monday-Friday). We can attend 1-3 sessions a week, 9-12pm.

*Govt funded AND rely on parental donations/fundraising.

*Education of the parents is compulsory. And by education, I mean filling in a booklet with a buddy, attending a termly meeting and going to workshops every so often. It’s not hard or overly time consuming but some people are put off by this. But consider that you are responsible for little kiddies early lives, it is kinda crucial. Pretty cool though, if you continue right up to higher level of education, you an gain a Diploma in Earlychildhoood Education. All while playing with yours and other kids.

Lily and slime
Lily and the slime


*Free play, very child initiated learning (by learning I mean play, because that’s how one learns); what the kids want to play with, it’s set up. Their interests from the previous sessions are built on. And you get to be apart of that. We bloody love it. And by we I actually mean we. Lily is thriving; She hoons around on the bikes with the boys, play pretend dolls/cooking, does actual cool crafty things, paints, gets messy with slime and foam, rules the sandpit, goes bug hunting with her BF….Her social skills have skyrocketed and I see all that, I get to be actively involved with it. AND I get to have HUMAN ADULT CONTACT, possibly make FRIENDS!! (If your reading this PC mums, please be my friend). I think it’s pretty neat.

Playcentre NZ

Montesorri/Rudolph Steiner – I feel kind of stink as I have lumped these 2 together but from what I’ve read, they have similar philosophies. AGAIN, correct me if I’m wrong!!

Similar to kindy but not so. The philosophies are different and therefore what goes in at the centre is different. Quite different to a day care/preschool option, with more kid directed/free play/collaborative/at childs own pace type ‘learning’. Best you look into it if your interested. This is another option we are thinking for Lily. (I was going to go to Steiner if we had of stayed in a different town to where we ended up).

Montessori NZ

Rudolph Steiner NZ

At the moment, Lily is with me and we attend playcentre. Things will change but currently, it’s working for us, and that is all that matters. And Lily still gets to listen to me singing my lungs out as we cruise the Macdonalds drive thru, as it’s on the way to playcentre. In fact the other day she ratted me out to husband, saying “Chicken muffin with a juice please…” Lil eavesdropper.


Links you may find helpful

Brief overview of costs

The all important ERO review of centres

An interesting news article about what you need to know

How to be thrifty with childcare options






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