Inspiring the next generation of Early Childhood Educators

  • ECE-article-header

As New Zealand's population continues to grow, it's areas such as early childhood education (ECE) that will see some of the greatest increases in demand. This is reflected in Ministry of Education statistics where the rate of children attending ECE before primary school has increased by 6.2 per cent since the year 2000 to 96.2 per cent.

As New Zealand's population continues to grow, it's areas such as early childhood education (ECE) that will see some of the greatest increases in demand. This is reflected in Ministry of Education statistics where the rate of children attending ECE before primary school has increased by 6.2 per cent since the year 2000 to 96.2 per cent.

With an ever-growing number of kids attending ECE, trained and skilled teachers should have no trouble finding a suitable job - especially in densely populated hubs such as Auckland.

If you're considering a career in ECE after high school or are keen to re-skill into an innovative and ever-changing sector, Unitec is the place to be. We spoke to Academic Leader Lee-Anne Turton to learn more about ECE and why Unitec's courses are a great starting point for students.

Focus on 'play-based approach'

Child Exploring

Kids love to explore - showcasing the benefits of the play-based approach.

Unitec's ECE programme for future students is the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education). Shaped by Te Whariki, New Zealand's early childhood curriculum, Unitec adheres to a 'play-based approach' which focuses on children learning through exploration.

Lee-Anne explained that 21st century children need to be critical and creative thinkers.

"In a knowledge age, with its unique challenges, an environment needs to reflect a play-based pedagogy approach," she said. "This approach encourages children to think outside the square and be creative."

Of course, 'play' doesn't just include getting out in the playground or sandpit. The play-based approach is all about exploring new experiences, creating positive relationships with other children and teachers and most importantly, having fun.

Play provides opportunities for children to test, share and talk about ideas, as well as to use their initiative and even take responsibility for their own learning.

Cultural diversity driving change

While the play-based approach isn't new, New Zealand's changing demographics mean it's more important than ever that both teachers and centres adopt this philosophy.

"We have a lot of people coming to New Zealand, in a super diverse environment. These people might not be familiar with the play-based approach, so teachers need to be respectful and be able to articulate its value," Lee-Anne explained.

The role of teachers

the role of teachers

Teachers need to be passionate and creative in their own learning.

Teachers play a valuable role in facilitating children's play. Lee-Anne said they need to have an in-depth knowledge of all learning areas and be able to recognise and respond to children's exploration and play.

"The response could be engaging in a conversation or ensuring the environment has the appropriate tools, resources or space for children to explore," she said.

In Auckland, where many early childhood centres are built high in buildings, teachers should also understand the value of nature and how it connects to children's learning and development.

Why choose the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education)?

For Lee-Anne, the value of this programme is highlighted by the feedback from employers. Regular feedback describes "confident" and "capable" students entering the profession as teachers after the three-year programme.

One of the reasons why students perform so well is the fact that they complete at least 12 hours per week of paid or voluntary work in a licensed early childhood centre. Many assessments are also undertaken in the field, underpinning real-world achievement based on theory from the classroom.

As a result of this three years' worth of experience, Unitec graduates have been able to explore various philosophies - entering the profession with the capability of working well with other teachers, parents and children.

"If you look at play-based approach, that hands-on experience is where you make those connections to new knowledge," Lee-Anne said.

If you'd like to learn more about the Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), feel free to get in touch with Unitec today. We'll be happy to discuss this programme in more detail and how you can make a difference in the world of early childhood education!


Find out more about studying Early Childhood Education at Unitec:

Study Early Childhood Education Get in touch Order Study Guide