Open letter to Mike Bedford, specialist in ECE, well-being and design

Ngā mihi Mike,

It was disappointing to read your recent research revealing that some of New Zealand's minimum standards in early childhood centres are the lowest in the developed world. As you will know, there are many different types of ECE settings, including kindergartens, kōhanga reo and home-based care. These are all regulated and funded by the Ministry of Education. Children cared for in the home by Educators, Nannies or Au Pairs benefit from being in a settled, familiar environment while still following the early childhood education curriculum, Te Whāriki and being supported by qualified and registered ECE teachers. With a maximum of four children being cared for by one adult in a warm, calm environment, home-based ECE providers generally do not have the same issues you have identified in your reports such as lack of indoor and outdoor space, heating and a noisy environment. The lower-ratio care that home-based offers also means less exposure to illness.

Everything we do at PORSE is backed by research. As New Zealand’s largest and longest home-based ECE provider, our programme is based on understanding how the brain wires and fires in those early years. We know from neuroscience findings that the first 1,000 days lay the foundation for a child’s life. The better the relationships are in a child’s life, the more the brain reaches its maximum potential. The first years of life are like a map where a baby learns to navigate the world. If the roads on the map are paved with warmth and connection and ways to manage stress, then the baby moves into the world with a sense of confidence in both their self and the world around them.

We know that children do best in a natural home environment where they can form a secure attachment with a consistent caregiver that can respond to their individual needs. One-on-one relationships give young children the foundation they need to become confident, resilient and capable adults. Children in home-based care and education are given the time and space to develop at their own pace. We offer peace and quiet for the times children need to recharge, allowing them the freedom to be themselves.

One of the greatest strengths of quality home-based childcare are Educators and Nannies who are able to form a secure attachment and connect with each child’s unique learning patterns and pace. It is through this attentive approach that our Educators and Nannies help children flourish, as they pick up on cues and interests that may go unnoticed in a larger group.

We would be keen to meet with you to help you further your research and to show you how we replicate the comfort and security of home, to ensure all children have the best start in their life-long learning journey.

Ngā mihi nui

Kerry Henderson, General Manager, PORSE In-Home Childcare.

 

In response Mike Bedford says: 

I totally agree with Kerry.  Home-based ECE can be really supportive, and the small group size automatically deals with almost all the problems (noise, space, stress, injuries) we addressed as researchers.  Our comments are mostly applicable to centre-based full day ECE, as that’s where the crowding, stress, noise and big group size really takes the greatest toll.  That’s where the poor regulations have such a big effect.   Home-based ECE can be really good, and the development of steady, loving, secure relationships goes such a long way towards addressing individual needs.

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