Certification criteria for playgroups

Section 10 of the Education and Training Act 2020(external link) defines a playgroup as a group that meets on a regular basis to facilitate children's play and in respect of which—

  1. no child attends for more than 4 hours on any day; and
  2. more than half the children attending on any occasion have a parent or caregiver present in the same play area at the same time; and
  3. the total number of children attending on any occasion is not greater than 4 times the number of parents and caregivers present in the same play area at the same time.

Playgroups include Puna Kōhungahunga, cultural playgroups and community language playgroups.

Playgroups are certificated in accordance with the Education and Training Act 2020 under the Education (Playgroups) Regulations 2008(external link), which prescribe minimum standards that each certificated playgroup must meet. Certification criteria are used to assess how playgroups meet the minimum standards required by the regulations.

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

The publication of the criteria on its own can be downloaded as a PDF [PDF, 1.1 MB] and printed.

The certification criteria were last updated in September 2022.

C2 Behavioural management

  • Criteria
    • Criteria

      Curriculum criterion 2

      Appropriate rules and behavioural boundaries are consistently and positively applied.

      Documentation required

      A procedure for providing positive guidance to children that reflects the group’s agreed methods for behaviour management.


      The criteria ensures that children receive consistent, sound and positive guidance about ways of behaving at playgroup.

  • 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.

      Getting on with others, managing your own impulses and understanding what are seen as appropriate behaviours are fundamental areas of learning for children. Adults in playgroups have an important role to play in providing children with consistent, sound and positive guidance as they relate to, communicate and interact with the people, places and things in their environments.

      Adults may find it difficult to know if they should deal with conflict between other people's children or just deal with their own child. It is a lot easier if the group has talked together about what types of behaviour they want to encourage and how they will respond when they see challenging behaviours and has written something down about what they decide. It is important to remember that any responses and interactions should maintain both an adult’s and a child’s self respect.

      A playgroup’s positive guidance procedure may include statements on:

      • appropriate positive guidance strategies which use praise and encouragement and give the child respect and dignity
      • inappropriate practices, such as inflicting physical or verbal punishment, isolating children, labelling children with derogatory words or shaming them
      • a process for reviewing the positive guidance provided by the group.

      The procedure could be displayed at the playgroup and pointed out to new parents and/or included in information packs. It is also a good idea to provide relevant reading material in the playgroup's adult library. Procedures should be reviewed on a regular basis so new families have the opportunity to contribute to their development.

      The four principles in the curriculum framework provide a strong foundation for the ways in which adults can guide children’s behaviour. Contact your local Ministry of Education advisor for advice on ways to do this.


      Children’s safety and well-being is paramount. This criteria specifically addresses the interactions, responses and relationships that occur during playgroups. Other criteria, such as MA3, all parents sharing responsibility for the safety and supervision of all children attending playgroup, HS 9, protecting children from the detrimental behaviour of any persons under the influence of alcohol or other substances, and HS10, protecting children from exposure to inappropriate written, visual or electronic material on sessions are also underpinned by a focus on children’s health, safety and well-being.