Early Childhood teacher education

Early childhood

Early Childhood teachers work in kindergartens, preschools, and early childhood centres.

Inspire young minds through play

As an Early Childhood teacher you will have the chance to teach kids when they are most open to learning. You might inspire their imaginations through building blocks, play dough or puzzles and the next day teach social skills and cooperation with group activities like gardening, playing musical instruments or preparing a meal. You'll have fun playing and laughing with kids, knowing that no two days are ever the same.

Make a difference

You’ll provide support for families with parenting and care giving. And through guided play you can help children gain the skills they need for healthy intellectual, emotional and physical development. It’s a very challenging and satisfying career where you can make a real difference in children’s lives.

Early Childhood Teacher Education students:

  • Are interested in working with infants, young children, and their communities
  • Are patient and creative
  • Love having fun with play dough, musical instruments, gardening and craft
  • Are good at communicating
  • Enjoy story time
  • Are passionate about nurturing and cultivating a love of learning in others

Some students go straight into teacher education after secondary school because they love working with young children while other students start their studies after having their own children and realising the importance of early childhood education on young children’s development.

If you love young kids and want to make a difference in their lives, read on to find out more about taking this programme at UC.

You'll learn about the theory, practice and management of teaching, including the place and role of education, the characteristics of learners and the teaching-learning process. You'll also learn about Te Whāriki, the curriculum taught in Early Childhood, to prepare you for the profession of teaching. 

You will spend numerous weeks working in a centre where you can trial and refine your planning, teaching and management skills. By the end of your time at UC you will have learnt all the teaching skills required to teach Early Childhood education in New Zealand.

There are three qualification pathways for Early Childhood Teaching at UC:

  • As an undergraduate degree through the three year Bachelor of Teaching and Learning programme. This is available either full-time or part-time on campus in Christchurch or New Plymouth or by distance through the Flexible Learning Option (FLO).
  • If you already have a NZ Bachelor degree (or equivalent) you can enrol in the one year Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching. This programme is studied full-time or part-time by distance (Flexible Learning Options). It includes 15 weeks of professional practice placements in early childhood centres.
  • If you already have a Bachelor degree you can enrol in the Master of Teaching and Learning. You will complete a 180 point master’s degree within one calendar year (Jan-Dec) of full-time study on campus in Christchurch. 
    The MTchgLn programme is leading-edge in its focus on educational practices that cater for diverse learners needs for the New Zealand Aotearoa context. Research and theory will develop your understanding of learning processes, providing you with a robust academic backdrop to apply in working inclusively with Maori, Pasifika and other priority learners. This option is suited to those looking for the challenge of post-graduate level study (a B+ average in your major 300 level courses is required), that is practice-based and research-informed. The rewards of this more intensive programme include the opportunity for year-long engagement with local partner early childhood services, and may lead to a higher entry point salary on entering the teaching profession. The Journal of Initial Teacher Inquiry showcases MTchgLn students' research articles which relate to a mix of both primary and secondary school-based contexts.
    For more information contact educationadvice@canterbury.ac.nz

Successful completion of any of these pathways lead to eligibility to apply for NZTC registration. However, there are differences in the duration, focus and qualification awarded. Specifically, the BTchLn is a three-year undergraduate programme whilst both the GradDipTchg and the MTchgLn are one-year programmes for those with a Bachelor degree. Below is a quick overview of the differences between the programmes.

 BTchLnGradDipTchgMTchgLn
Level of qualification Undergraduate Graduate Postgraduate
Qualification Duration 3 years full-time or up to 6 years part-time 1 year full-time or up to 3 years part-time 1 year full-time
2017 Course dates 13 Feb - 16 Nov 2017 7 Feb – 16 Nov 2017 16 Jan- 8 Dec 2017
Fees* $5,900 $7,325 $10,650
Loans Yes Yes Yes
Allowance Yes Yes No

* These are domestic fees are for 2017. 

The Bachelor of Teaching and Learning is open to any student with University Entrance. However, English and Mathematics are recommended.

If you are 20 years of age or over, recent tertiary study is desirable. For example, you may want to consider the Certificate in Learning Support (CertLS) which is available by distance or the Certificate in University Preparation (CUP) before applying.

If you already have a Bachelor degree you can apply for the one-year (Feb-Nov) Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Primary). If you already have a Bachelor degree with a B+ average in your major 300 level courses you can apply for the one-year (Jan-Dec) Master of Teaching and Learning.

Selection for entry is not automatic and is based on:

  • Academic ability
  • Involvement and interest in working with children
  • Community involvement
  • Communication skills – you need to be able to communicate your ideas clearly, confidently and coherently, and to listen and respond to others appropriately
  • A police check and an interview

IELTS requirements for Initial Teacher Education programmes

All students for whom English is an additional language must provide evidence of their English language ability.

Please note that the IELTS requirements for entry to Initial Teacher Education programmes are set by the Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand and are higher than the standard University requirements. IELTS academic scores are the only acceptable English language test for teacher education.

Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood), Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Primary), Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching, Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Primary), or the Graduate Diploma in Teaching and Learning (Secondary):

  • IELTS (Academic) with a minimum score of 7.0 in all bands.
  • Applicants who have completed at least two years of successful study in a New Zealand secondary school and achieved a minimum number of NCEA level 2 credits in Literacy, or who have completed a tertiary qualification in New Zealand at NZQA level 7 or higher, may be eligible for an exemption from the requirement to sit IELTS.

Master of Teaching and Learning (all endorsements):

  • IELTS (Academic) with a minimum score of 7.5 in all bands.
  • Applicants who have completed at least two years of successful study in a New Zealand secondary school and achieved a minimum number of NCEA level 2 credits in Literacy, or who have completed a tertiary qualification in New Zealand at NZQA level 7 or higher, may be eligible for an exemption from the requirement to sit IELTS.

All Initial Teacher Education programmes have one intake each, starting in January or February. Applications open in August and are due four weeks before the programme starts. We recommend early application as programmes are limited entry.

Graduates of our Early Childhood Teacher Education programmes will be eligible for provisional registration. This enables you to apply for early childhood teaching positions in New Zealand. Please contact the relevant authorities for international requirements.

Teachers have many opportunities to progress to senior positions with experience and additional study such as our Postgraduate programmes. They can also use their teaching skills in other areas of work with young people (e.g. teaching trainee teachers, or working in curriculum development, research or education policy).

Learn from our students' experiences