How is Playcentre different from other ECE options?

Playcentres cater for children from birth to school age and are licensed ECEs that are run cooperatively by parents and whānau. Playcentre creates a sense of belonging and community as families share responsibilities for their centre and have the opportunity to create a village and support network.

For many parents, Playcentre is their choice of early education because they want to see and be part of how their child learns and develops through play.

Playcentre’s overriding philosophy is that parents are the first educators of their children and its centres all around the country foster the involvement of whānau.

This unique opportunity sets Playcentre apart from all other early childhood education (ECE) services.

Playcentre creates a sense of belonging and community as families share responsibilities and decision making.

Parents can also extend their own skills through NZQA-accredited education programmes.

Playcentre caters to families with children aged 0-6 years, offering families the chance to play, grow, and learn together, as well as to forge meaningful friendships with other families in the community.

Playcentre typically runs 3-hour sessions in the morning and requires parents to participate in the supervision of the children resulting in ratios of 1:5 to 1:3.

Talk to many Playcentre parents and a recurring theme is how it is not just children who gain from their involvement, but the whole whānau. A focus on child-led learning means that each day Playcentres offer a variety of learning and play experiences such as building, baking, painting, dressing up, singing, and sand and water play.

The 420 Playcentres around New Zealand are cooperatively managed by parents, follows the Te Whāriki Early Childhood curriculum, is subsidised by the Ministry of Education and are supported by staff at a national and regional level.

All Playcentres offer three free visits and we encourage you to visit and see what it’s all about.


It’s a community of support, friendship and learning for children and adults. Great lasting memories are made and sets children up for the play based collaborative learning schools that are becoming more integrated in all our communities. But mostly it’s fun and messy!