Early Childhood

Do you want to work with children between the ages of 0-6? Working in an early childhood centre could be for you! 

A typical day working as an early childhood teaching assistant may include: 

  • Teaching through play  
  • Reading Stories  
  • Discussing children's progress with their teachers, caregivers and/or whānau (family) 
  • Helping to prepare meals  
  • Assisting teachers develop lesson plans 

Gaining a level three certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care at Otago Polytechnic includes:  

  • Five months of full-time study (February –June) 
  • Four hours of class time a day, four days a week  
  • One day a week in an early childhood centre (placement) 
  • 15+ hours study outside of regular class time  
  • Spending a day gaining a first aid certificate (in class time) 
  • A two-day Treaty of Waitangi workshop (in class time) 

What types of assessments are involved? 

There are no exams in this course, instead students' complete reports and self-reflections. These self-reflections typically require students to write about their experiences and learning gained form their classes and placements, while the reports focus on legislation around early childhood education in New Zealand.  

Career opportunities 

This level three qualification allows individuals the opportunity to gain the necessary skills and knowledge required for entry-level early childhood focused careers. Most of our graduates gain employment as early childhood teaching assistants or go on to complete the New Zealand Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care (Level 4). Gaining the level 4 certificate better prepares you for working in the industry and can increase your chances of finding employment. It also qualifies someone to become a home-based carer or take a position of responsibility in a New Zealand Playcentre.  

In New Zealand, you are not required to have a certificate or a degree to apply for a role within an early childhood centre, however a degree is necessary to become a qualified teacher and employers are more likely to hire those with previous experience.  By gaining either the level three or level four certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care you will have gained this highly sought-after experience and become more employable.     

Extra information  

Don’t let any language barriers get in the way of you studying early childhood education and care! New Zealand is becoming an increasingly multi-cultural society and that means there is often a variety of cultures represented in early childhood centres across the country. Many employers are extremely grateful to have staff who are fluent in languages other than English as it allows for more effective communication between teachers and children who might not speak English at home.  

English Language requirements 

  • IELTS 5 for Level 3; IELTS 5.5 for Level 4 
  • NZCEL Level 3 Applied (Academic) 


For more information about start dates and associated costs visit the Early childhood home page