It doesn't seem that long ago, that we didn't have qualified teachers working in early childhood.

Playcentres or kindies were as much the social hub of communities, as they were a place for pre-school children to "learn".

But much has changed. We now have early childhood education curriculums. And early childhood teachers with degrees. I am married to one.

It has given me respect and empathy for the job they do.


We also have early childhood centres that recognise a structured learning environment with sound, monitored educational policies is beneficial for kids.

Centres also recognise the importance of paying heed to a child's physical, cultural, mental and social wellbeing.

Then there is safety. Many people might consider that the only safety matters that early childhood teachers are concerned with are choking hazards or safe play rules and guidelines.

Safety extends beyond what you see in front of you.

Young children are sponges. They absorb learning.

And what happens at home as well.

Sometimes this places staff in the challenging position of acting as a social worker.

Good centres have staff aware of their policies that guide them in these instances.


Good licensed early childhood centres emanate love, learning and respect for children in a regulated environment, monitored by the Education Review Office.

Which is why, in 2018, it is surprising that a Hawke's Bay teacher has lost her registration after physically restraining children in an attempt to get them to sleep.

There is little point in castigating the teacher or centre but it raises obvious questions around the culture and policies at the centre and the training and guidance the teacher received, that lead her to make the decisions she did.

Physically holding a child to prevent them from doing something is an outdated teaching practice.

The scenario puts the spotlight on an industry that has grown quickly in the past decade, with the advent of Government subsidies that provide varying degrees of free hours for childcare.

More centres have sprung up, parents and caregivers who might not have previously considered early childhood education can now do so.

The hours might be free but it doesn't make children any less precious.

And it's always worth remembering that children aren't the only people in a childcare centre who can reflect, and learn something.