Finding out your child is blind, deafblind or has low vision can be a difficult time for families and whānau. It is natural to feel apprehensive about your child’s future and anxious about what is in store for you.
Choosing an early childhood education service
New Zealand has many types of early childhood education services to choose from. Each type has its own way of working with children and with families and whānau.
Some offer all-day education and care; some offer only a part-day service.
Generally speaking, services fall into two main categories.
- Teacher-led—where registered teachers provide the education and care, e.g., kindergartens and early childhood education centres.
- Parent-led—where parents, families and whānau provide the education and care for their own and other children, e.g., playcentres and kōhanga reo.
If you’re not sure about the service best suited to you and your child, talk to someone in your child’s vision team for advice and guidance. You might like to visit a few services before deciding on the right one. Someone in your child’s vision team is available for support when visiting centres if you would like. Ask for time with the people in charge so they can answer any questions you may have.
Te Whāriki is the Ministry of Education’s early childhood curriculum policy statement. Te Whāriki is a framework that focuses on learning partnerships between the child, teachers and whānau based on the child’s needs and sociocultural context.
There are a number of partner agencies that you may wish to be in contact with, that includes:
- Blind Foundation.
- Kāpō Māori Aotearoa New Zealand Inc.
- Parent To Parent.
- Parents of Vision Impaired (PVI).
- Deafblind Association New Zealand.
- Learning Support, Ministry of Education.
- Disability Services, Ministry of Health.
- The Well Child – Tamariki Ora Programme.
You can find more information about the early years by visiting The Vision Book: The Early Years section of our website. This document is also available from your Resource Teacher: Vision.
Starting school is a big landmark for you and your child. Most children and young people who are blind, deaf blind and low vision attend their local school where they will be supported by a Resource Teacher Vision (RTV), as part of the school teaching team. But that is not the only option.
In some areas there are special schools which your child may be eligible for, there’s also home schooling and Conductive Education centres. As a parent and whānau, you may want to look at all options and find the best fit for you and your child.
Finding the right school
It takes time to find the right school for your child, so plan to make visits to local schools well ahead. Your RTV or your local Special Education Early Intervention teacher will be alongside you as look for the right school for your child. You can also find more information on the Enrolling and starting your child at school page on the Ministry of Education website.
Funding and support
Your RTV or your local Special Education Early Intervention teacher will also provide information on any extra funding that may be available to provide extra support for your child in school. They will walk you through all the paper work. You can find more information on the Learning Support, Ministry of Education page.
How will my child learn alongside everyone else?
In New Zealand the curriculum is provided through Te Whāriki: Early childhood curriculum and The New Zealand Curriculum. These provide the basis for all children’s education. You may also hear the words Expanded Core Curriculum. This is the tool that helps children and young people who are blind, deaf blind and low vision to access and participate in the regular curriculum as well as develop skills of independence.
With you and your child at the centre, the teaching team will plan together how to create a successful, supportive, learning environment for you and your child. The RTV will work alongside to support the team as they adapt the school environment, the resources and the way they teach to meet the needs of your child through out your child’s school life.
Parent perspective – First-hand experience of finding the right school
Video 1: Sharon describes what it was like when Boston started school at 5 years old.
Here is also a Transcript Sharon Beattie Starting school Part 3 2010.
If you have a story or even just a comment you would like to share either add it in the comments box at the bottom of the page, or get in touch with BLENNZ via our Contact Us page.