Choosing a childcare centre is among the hardest decisions a parent can make when returning to work after having a baby.
Kym Gibson, general manager of Creators Educational Trust, empathises.
Gibson, a mother of one, says there are a lot of good early childcare centres in Hamilton, and people should take their time to find one that is right for them and their family.
“It’s important to find a place that you connect with. It’s a process. Take time to visit, talk to staff and ask questions.”
It’s a process many working parents face, with almost two-thirds (64 percent) of children under four attending a licensed ECE service in 2018, according to Ministry of Education data.
Gibson says most ECE teachers in Waikato do a fantastic job for children and families, offering learning environments and experiences where creativity and play is encouraged.
Creators Educational Trust has three childcare centres at Forest Lake, Grandview and Te Awamutu, as well as a nationwide network of homebased early childcare educators through its Creators@Home service.
It was one of the first centres in Hamilton to offer a weekly forest school programme in 2015.
Creators Forest Lake centre manager Phylicia Tan says the forest school programme is still popular today with their children. Kindergarten kids do a nature excursion every Thursday, and the toddlers on Fridays.
Gibson says when choosing a centre, the staff are probably the most important thing for parents to consider.
“It’s about the relationships you develop, because our teachers become part of your extended family. Connecting with our whānau and community is important to us. We host regular events that bring everyone together.”
The centre recently held an evening for whānau showcasing the children’s learning and art, including pottery, watercolour painting, sculpture and jewellery making. It was based off the organisation’s learning inquiry focus for the year, ‘Kind Heart. Fierce Mind. Brave Spirit.’
The vast majority (80-90 percent) of Creators’ teachers are degree-qualified, higher than average (57 percent of ECE teachers were qualified in 2018 according to Ministry of Education figures)