Early childhood education needs qualified staff, says educator

Early childhood education is not babysitting, and should be undertaken by qualified staff if children are to have the best start, a Palmerston North educator says.

The theme for Children's Day yesterday was Treasure Our Children.

Tui Early Learners Centre head teacher Christina Loye said treasuring children meant ensuring every child got the best start through high-quality early childhood education (ECE).

New Zealand Educational Institute Te Riu Roa, which represents ECE teachers, has renewed its call to the Government to ensure teachers are qualified and registered to boost quality.

"High-quality early childhood education is the foundation for good social and communication skills, emotional wellbeing and a love of learning which children need throughout their lives," NZEI said.

"Unfortunately, government policy in recent years is making it difficult for centres to employ 100 per cent qualified teachers because it will fund only up to 80 per cent qualified staff and only requires 50 per cent of teachers in each centre to be qualified."

Ms Loye said some staff at Tui Early Learners were students studying for their ECE teaching degree. When they qualified, the centre was not always able to keep them on if there wasn't a qualified teaching position available. "If we could keep qualified staff, it would be better for children and parents."

She said qualified teachers knew how to maximise a child's interests and challenge them to increase skills and feel successful and positive about learning. "Having worked in primary school as well, you can see the children who have had quality preschool education. They are ready to learn and race ahead in their education."

Manawatu Standard