Getting Kiwi kids ready for school

17 August 2017

Media release

Most mums of four-year-olds are confident that their child is ready to engage socially at school, although only 62% are confident that their child has the pre-reading and writing skills needed to start school.

This is the key finding of Superu’s latest report At A Glance – Early education participation: Getting New Zealand children ready for school. It highlights key findings about early childhood education from the recent Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) report Now We Are Four and other sources.

The transition to school is an important development stage for young children, and is more likely to be successful when children are enrolled in high-quality early childhood education.

Vasantha Krishnan, Superu’s acting Deputy Chief Executive, says that almost all (94%) four year olds in the GUiNZ study are attending early childhood education or are in organised home-based care.

“According to Ministry of Education data, education and care services, which include private and community-owned centres and Rudolf Steiner and Montessori centres, are most popular with parents, followed by kindergartens. Fifteen-percent of Mäori four year-olds are in te kōhanga reo,” says Ms Krishnan.

The research also shows that the home environment is important in preparing children for transition to formal learning at school.

“Mothers of children in the GUiNZ study report reading books with their child at least once a day (59% of mums), encouraging their children to count every day (54%), and singing songs and playing music with their child every day (49%).”

“While 94% of mums in the GUiNZ study are confident that their child is ready to engage socially with other children at school, only 62% are confident that their child has the pre-reading and writing skills necessary to start school.”

Another key factor in getting ready for school is the B4 School Check, which is a free health and development check for four year olds. Seventy percent of children in the study have had their checks by age four and a half, the vast majority as a result of receiving an invitation to do so, highlighting the importance of being proactive with parents.

Characteristics of children in the GUiNZ study at age four:

  • Average weight for boys: 19.4kg. Girls: 19kg

  • Average height for boys: 107cm. Girls: 106cm

  • About a quarter speak another language in addition to English.

  • 68% identify as European, 25% Mäori, 21% Pacific, 18% Asian, 16% New Zealander and 3% Middle Eastern, Latin American, African or other (children can fall into multiple categories).

Complex social issues need good-quality evidence and decision-makers need to know what works. This research helps increase the use of evidence by people across the social sector so that they make better decisions.

This At A Glance is based on GUiNZ research and data provided by the Ministry of Education. Crown funding of GUiNZ is managed by Superu.

Media contact: Ann-Marie Nansett, Marketing and Communications Manager, Superu, 027 586 5659

Last update: 17 Aug 2017