Licensing criteria for centre-based ECE services

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines an early childhood education and care centre as a premises that is used regularly for the education or care of 3 or more children (not being children of the persons providing the education or care or children enrolled at a school who are being provided with education or care before or after school) under the age of 6 years by day (or part of a day) but not for any continuous period of more than 7 days.

Centre-based ECE services have a variety of different operating structures, philosophies and affiliations, and are known by many different names – for example, Playcentres, early learning centres, Montessori, childcare centres, Kindergartens, crèches, preschools, a’oga amata, Rudolf Steiner etc.

These centres are licensed in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each licensed service must meet. Licensing criteria are used to assess how the centres meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

For each criterion there is guidance to help centres meet the required standards.

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.8 MB] and printed. 

The licensing criteria were last updated in September 2022. 


C9 Range of experiences

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Curriculum Criterion 9

      The service curriculum provides children with a range of experiences and opportunities to enhance and extend their learning and development – both indoors and outdoors, individually and in groups.

      Documentation required


      This criterion is a means of ensuring that the service curriculum is consistent with the prescribed curriculum framework.

  • Guidance
    • Guidance

      Any examples in the guidance are provided as a starting point to show how services can meet (or exceed) the requirement. Services may choose to use other approaches better suited to their needs as long as they comply with the criteria.

      The range of experiences and opportunities provided to enhance children’s learning and development will be heavily influenced by the outcomes of assessment, planning, and evaluation practices. Along with providing a range of resources and equipment, extending children’s learning and development involves using these resources in purposeful and meaningful ways, relevant to the children’s lives.

      Resources take many forms and will include people, places, and things. The resources provided to support the service curriculum should reflect the service’s philosophy of learning, and will be responsive to the preferences of children, their families, the staff, and community.

      The experiences and opportunities available should enable children to make choices about their learning. This could be individual or group learning, happen indoors or outdoors, and should offer challenge and familiarity.

      Through their interactions with children, educators have a key role in extending children’s learning and development. They create opportunities for children to expand their thinking and learning within friendly, nurturing relationships.

  • Practice
    • Practice

      Examples of what this might look like in practice:

      • Educators are familiar with individual children’s interests and strengths and provide appropriate experiences to extend them
      • Children have ready-access to varied environments that they can explore and investigate
      • Equipment can be used in a variety of different ways
      • Children engage in a variety of different physical experiences, planned to challenge them and enhance their physical skills
      • Children are actively engaged in investigation and sustained exploration
      • The service curriculum reflects the holistic way that children learn
      • Educators frequently join in children’s activities and offer materials, information, or encouragement to facilitate play and learning around a particular subject.

  • Things to consider
    • Things to consider

      Things to consider:

      • Are there enough resources to promote children’s choices for challenge, revisiting, wider community experiences, exploration, solitary and group play?
      • How is our environment set up? Who makes the decisions about how our environment is set up? Where does assessment for learning feature in this?
      • Does the physical access and programme support children to make choices about their movements between the indoor and outdoor environments?
      • How are children and their families/whānau engaged, regarding the range of experiences and opportunities provided?
      • How do our teaching practices stimulate children’s thinking, and reflect the holistic way children learn and grow?
      • Is our environment used in purposeful and meaningful ways?
      • Is the environment arranged in a way that allows choice and opportunities for independence and interdependence?