Early Childhood - College of Education, Health and Human Development - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

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Early Childhood Teaching

Early Childhood Teacher Education

What is Early Childhood Teacher Education?

Early Childhood teachers work with young children aged 0 – 5 years old in kindergartens, preschools, and other similar early childhood centres. As an Early Childhood teacher you 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.

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 ChildhoodIs Early Childhood Teaching for me?

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.

What and how will I learn 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).
    Download a brochure on the BTchLn (Early Childhood) (PDF, 293KB).
  • 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.
    Download the brochure on the GradDip Early Childhood Teaching (PDF, 161KB).
  • 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 fulltime study on campus in Christchurch.
    The MTchgLn programme is a new qualification that 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 2015 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 the GradDipTchg and the MTchgLn programmes.

  BTchLn GradDipTchg MTchgLn
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
Loans Yes Yes Yes
Allowance Yes Yes No

* These are domestic fees are for 2017.

Why study Early Childhood at UC

Early ChildhoodThe UC College of Education, Health and Human Development has a national and international reputation for producing high-quality early childhood teaching graduates based on over 130 years of experience. You get an internationally recognised Degree (not a diploma), giving you opportunities for a wide range of careers and further study.

The UC Education campus in Christchurch has well equipped buildings and teaching rooms. These are complemented by Collective, the student cafe, and the Education Library which has plenty of study space and provides support for all students.

At the beginning of each year orientation activities enable you to meet other students studying Early Childhood Teaching and UC offers plenty of social and recreational activities for you to choose from when you need a break from studying.

We offer flexibility for our distance and regional students – you receive strong support from your lecturers and have a great online network with access to lectures, coursework, staff and other students. It means that you can study part-time or full-time in some programmes whilst continuing to work, meet family responsibilities and pursue other interests. You can study Early Childhood Teaching on campus in Christchurch, by distance or at our regional campus in New Plymouth.


The BTchLn and GradDipTchLn Early Childhood programmes have one intake each February. Applications open in July and are due four weeks prior to commencement of the programme.

The MTchgLn programme begins in mid January. Applications need to be received by early December.

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What should I take at school?

The Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) is open to any student with University Entrance. However, the following subjects are recommended:

  • English
  • Maths.

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) prior to applying.

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.

Students for whom English is an additional language must provide evidence of their English language ability as follows:

  • Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood) or Graduate Diploma in Early Childhood Teaching:
    • 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:
    • 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

Note that satisfying these criteria does not guarantee entry to the programme.

We recommend that in years 12 and 13 you gain some work experience helping out in an ECE service, as experience in working with young children can assist your application. Talk to your school careers advisor for information.

What jobs do Early Childhood Teaching graduates do?

Graduates of the degree or graduate diploma programmes will be eligible for provisional registration as a teacher. 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).

For more information about the skills you will learn and the jobs and activities our graduates do visit the UC Careers Hub What can I do with a degree in Early Childhood Teacher Education?

Current and past students' experiences

  • Fleur Kay, Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood)
  • Elizabeth Kelly, studying towards a Bachelor of Teaching and Learning (Early Childhood)

Further study

Postgraduate options include: