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What is the Difference Between Daycare and Kindergarten?

This article explores the difference between daycare and kindergarten and answers some of the questions you might have about them to ease the process of choosing a care centre for your child.

Providing Quality Childcare Since 2012   Infants, Toddlers & Preschool  •  Daycare Centre

As a working parent, you need to feel comfortable with your chosen childcare facility. It’s important to know that your little one will be safe, enjoying fun and educational activities while you are at work. However, there are several kinds of early learning services, and this can make your choice difficult. This article explores the difference between daycare and kindergarten and answers some of the questions you might have about them to ease the process of choosing a care centre for your child.

Difference Between Daycare and Kindergarten - Daycare in New Zealand

Years ago, “daycare” was a term used to describe centres that were not considered traditional kindergartens. Today, however, daycare centres provide more than care to children. The teachers in daycare must complete at least the degree at a Bachelor’s level, and they are just as committed and professional as their peers in kindergartens.

daycare and kindergarten

What are the admittance age and the schedule of kindergartens?

The main difference between daycare and kindergarten is that you can enrol your child into daycare from birth, while kindergartens admit children from two years old.  

Daycare centres can be privately owned, provided by the parents’ employers as a working benefit or managed by a local community.

Many of these centres have working hours between 7 in the morning and 6 in the evening, offering working parents an option for their children’s care and education throughout the day. The children can stay at the daycare for several hours or the entire day, based on each family’s “logistics” – grandparents, other family members, neighbours or friends who can take care of the little one until the parents come home from work.

Curriculum and educational approaches of daycare in New Zealand

Daycare centres have different educational philosophies like Emilia Reggio, Montessori or Steiner and teach children in various religious, language and cultural backgrounds. 

Just like kindergartens, daycare centres follow the curriculum of Early Childhood Education (ECE), also known by the Māori name “Te Whāriki“, which means “woven mat“.

The principles, goals and learning results of Te Whāriki focus on the children and feature experiences, activities and events that promote their best interests.

What can daycare offer your child?

A daycare must offer the setting and the tools a small child needs for proper development from cognitive, physical, linguistic, communication and social standpoint.

Examples of elements that a high-quality daycare offer to enrolled children include:

  • corners where the little ones can hide while still being seen by teachers;
  • spaces where they can play roles or learn about the cause-effect relationship;
  • activities that spark the interest of the children and encourage their creativity and curiosity;
  • Team games to nurture determination and teach them about problem-solving.

An outdoor setting appropriate to the age and educational requirements of the child, allowing him to climb, dig, crawl, work and experience various materials and textures (dirt, sand, water, snow), enables the child to play, learn and socialise with other children.

Difference Between Daycare and Kindergarten - Kindergarten in New Zealand

Kindergartens in New Zealand are part of a national organisation that features around 25 regional kindergarten associations, about 460 kindergartens, and additional services spread all over the country. These centres are popular among parents because they are usually located near primary schools, the cost of attendance is relatively low, and the quality of education provided to children is high. 

daycare and kindergarten

What are the admittance age and the schedule of kindergartens?

In general, kindergartens enrol children between 2 and 5, split into two groups: younger and older children.

Most kindergartens have morning sessions for older children five days a week and afternoon sessions for younger children three days a week. However, there are also kindergartens providing service for 6 hours, so it’s best to check the schedule with the facility you intend to enrol your children. 

Curriculum and staff of kindergartens in New Zealand

Kindergartens work based on a programme and philosophy derived from Te Whāriki, the country’s Early Childhood Education (ECE) curriculum. Te Whāriki provides flexibility, enabling kindergartens to adapt the methods used in their education process. However, in all these centres, children must learn through play in a safe and dynamic learning environment, guided by dedicated teachers focused on developing the children’s communication, language and social skills in preparation for entering school. 

All teachers in these childcare centres are qualified and certificated as Early Childhood Education (ECE) teachers. This means they have a Bachelor of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), a Diploma of Teaching (Early Childhood Education), or an equivalent Early Childhood Teaching qualification, vetted by the Teaching Council of New Zealand.

What can a kindergarten provide your child?

Many kindergartens allow children to choose the activities they want to engage in, such as drawing, building, creating crafts, looking at books or playing with toys. The opportunity to learn through play is more efficiently seized by the little ones when they get to select what they want to do. 

Most kindergartens have a generous outdoor space where children can enjoy different experiences like observing and learning about the natural environment and its “habitants”, whether it is caterpillars, butterflies or earthworms.

Children are taught the importance of a clean environment and how to treat nature gently. Sorting rubbish and feeding the birds in the yard are other examples of what kindergartens teach children who will grow into responsible adults. Some kindergartens grow pets like rabbits to the delight of the little ones who get to pet their fluffy fur. 

Meeting people with interesting jobs is on the list of many kindergartens. They invite firefighters, doctors or police officers to speak to children about why they like their jobs and how these jobs help the community. 

Some kindergartens organise once or more times a year family events. Whether it’s costume-themed or a tea party, a family picnic or a disco afternoon, these events involve parents who act as organisers and have the opportunity to meet other parents.

Trips outside the kindergarten are highly appreciated, as the little ones are delighted to go to the theatre or the zoo with their colleagues and teachers.

How much does daycare or kindergarten cost?

Aside from the fee per hour charged by the centre, additional costs may arise if:

  • the centre is privately-owned or a not-for-profit organisation;
  • it includes meals, nappies or other supplies;
  • it provides additional, per-pay classes such as dancing, painting, etc.

Some centres charge a fee if you pick up your child late and a different one if you drop your child off early, and others may apply a bond, reimbursed when your child no longer attends the centre’s classes.

You should know that all children between the age of 3 and 4 are entitled to 20 hours of free Early Childhood Education per week, a facility provided by New Zeeland’s government. However, not all early education centres offer these 20 hours, so it’s best to check this before enrolling your child on daycare or kindergarten. 

The first years of a child’s life entail extraordinary brain development that, in a stimulating environment, enables them to achieve their full potential. The daycare and kindergarten your child attends in these first years and the quality of the education they provide are extremely important.

We've put together some helpful articles about childcare and daycare in New Zealand

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Our Early Learning Centres

Our early childhood centre environments strongly reflects our inspiration – The Reggio Emilia philosophy, from Reggio Emilia, Italy.

We provide a creative and open ended environment that encourages infinite learning for the children and strong relationships between teachers, children and families.

The day’s routines are flexible. At the same time, care is taken to recognise and respect each child’s needs.

Playground at Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre childcare in Howick, Auckland
Child playing in BBELC - Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre Childcare (1)

Why Choose a Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre?

Here's what our parents say about our childcare centres

Come and visit one of our childcare centres and see for yourself why your child will love it

Talk to the Centre Manager, meet the team, see the natural outdoor play areas and educational rooms, learn about how we develop our programs and find out more about our unique approach to partnering with our families.

Our latest parent reviews from Google

Tanya Vester
Tanya Vester
Our sons attended Bright beginnings early leaning Centre and absolutely loved it. They attended Manuka and Kowhai rooms, and later also Pohutukawa room. The teachers in all three rooms were just SO lovely, caring, attentive and supported their learning journeys and communicated the children’s achievements with us. We are so thankful for the time our kids were able to spend there, and the kids made great memories for life. We highly recommend BBELC to anyone looking for a child care center. We had to leave due to moving overseas and will miss BBELC so much!!!
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
Sukhpreet Singh Mediratta
"I don't think I can express in words the gratitude I feel towards you all. My child, Amrin have learnt so much in your care that will stay with her for life. I believe their fondest memories of childhood will include many of you - I truly hope you are all extremely proud your efforts with our children. Thank you for all the wonderful support and care you have given to my daughter. This Centre is a very special place and she has grown so much in your nurturing, inspiring and challenging environment. You are really helping her to prepare for her school foundation." Actually, this is a second home for Amrin, she started her journey from BBELC, Auckland and will leave for school from here. Thanks to all the teachers, If I start typing the names, the list will be so long. In last especially I should not forget Nikita, who is so understanding and caring towards kids as well as families. Thank you with much love."
Anaru Pui
Anaru Pui
We've had our daughter Waikohu pui in the center for over 1 year now And she has Developed into such a beautiful kind person and has gained some great life skills and experiences thank you to all the teachers for there support and care with our baby girl making life alot easier knowing shes getting great education and Aroha (Love) from all the teachers at her Kura ( school ) thanks again ❤️ from the Pui whanau
Jagroop Kaur
Jagroop Kaur
Teachers are very kind and patient. Also they encourage children to learn in different indoor and outdoor activities. I am so pleased in POHUTUKAWA room the teacher do the school transition program, which is really helpful to the kids enter the primary school in the future. Thanks all teacher who support VIRASAT and other kids there quite well.
anne dela cruz
anne dela cruz
We have been with BBELC Hamilton since 2020 during the peak of pandemic and I never doubted to bring my children here knowing that they are on a safe place and the team are all aware of the best health and safety plan to ensure that everyone in the centre are safe. The centre is the BEST for me in terms of CLEANLINESS (the place os very tidy), SAFETY OF CHILDREN (only parents/caregivers can enter the premises on their pin coded door), FRIENDLY STAFF (you will be greeted by a very friendly receptionist, you can talk to the teachers about your concern with your child), OPEN DOOR POLICY (Manager’s door is open all times for parents for any concern or question), NUTRICIOUS FOOD for our kids, SCHOOL READINESS PROGRAM (table activities, book reading, sharing with others, simple literacy), MAT TIME IS THE BEST as the kids learn to socialize, listen to teachers, story telling, yoga, dance time, music time,etc. and they also held PARENTS TIME where we can chat with the teacher about our kids, meet other parents, share experiences and strategies, parents gets treat and gift on special occasion like mother’s day and father’s day that will definitely make your day as a parent. And lastly for few years now, my kids have enjoyed their Christmas party where they get gift and enjoy bouncy castle, it’s simple but the experience and memories will be lifetime. THANKS TO ALL THE STAFF AND TEACHERS OF BBELC Hamilton! KUDOS TO ALL YOUR HARDWORK AND DEDICATION. CHEERS TO MANY MORE YEARS OF SUCCESS! - DELA CRUZ Family ( Robb and Reuben)
I love BBELC and my child love it too. As parents ,my husband and I deeply appreciate the staff being friendly ,kind ,patient ,role models and caring .The educators work well with parents to achieve the children’s developmental goals , the manager Leonie and Teachers Mari, Kathryn, Summer and Emma really care about the children and very welcoming. The childcare is secure and this gives us peace of mind in knowing that our little ones are in good hands and safe . The classrooms are clean and nicely decorated. I highly recommend sending your child to this center. It’s become our second home.
BBELC is an awesome environment for my daughter to learn and grow through different types of activities. All the staffs are friendly, supportive and helpful. Highly recommended to all.
Neda Bolouri
Neda Bolouri
A safe, happy and caring place for our children.
Norvega Bantang
Norvega Bantang
Bright Beginnings Early Learning Centre - Hamilton is like a second home to my 2 little girls. They are very supportive of the children’s early learning and individual development. The rooms are spacious, warm and cozy and provide different kinds of resources for the children to explore. My girls are always excited to go to kindy every morning. Since I have also recently become part of this centre, it’s good to know and see for myself how things work in the centre and how very passionate the staff are in looking after every child like they are family. As a parent, it gives me the peace of mind that my children are in good hands and are well taken cared of. Definitely made the right decision to enroll our children here.
Diana Villa-Ignacio
Diana Villa-Ignacio
BBELC is a wonderful centre which caters to quality care and learning of children. We take pride in our relationship with parents , whanau and children having positive environment, open communication, flexibility, catering to children needs and working alongside parent's aspiration for their children. Feel free to come and see our Hamilton centre. We will be happy to show you around and be part of our Bright Beginnings Family.

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