An overview of Te Kura

Published on Monday, 18 September 2017
Last updated on Friday, 17 December 2021

Article hero image

Providing distance education since 1922, Te Kura makes early learning accessible for all. This means if a preschooler lives far away or is feeling poorly, Te Kura brings quality education within their reach. 

Here, we look at the thinking behind Te Kura and its benefits for families across the country. 

What does Te Kura do? 

Also known as Te Aho o Te Kura Pounamu or The Correspondence School, Te Kura provides distance education for preschoolers via its free early childhood programme. 

Like a kindergarten, Te Kura is a teacher-led early childhood education (ECE) service. This means that qualified and registered ECE teachers work with parents and whānau, providing a personalised programme to meet each child's early learning needs and achieve specific learning goals. 

However, instead of being with children day in and day out, teachers are based in an office and post learning materials to the child’s home. They provide support through digital ePortfolios, phone, email, letters and annual events held in regional areas. 

The Te Kura early learning programme is based on Te Whāriki, the early childhood curriculum

The Te Whāriki curriculum focuses on:

  • Four principles: Empowerment, holistic development, family and community, and relationships; and 
  • Five strands: Well-being, belonging, contribution, communication and exploration  

The Te Kura programme includes learning materials for the child and their whānau, information to support the child’s development and ideas for activities to do at home.

Te Kura activities include:

  • Art
  • Language
  • Maths
  • Physical education
  • Science
  • Social and dramatic play

Children are also able to attend a licensed early childhood centre for up to eight hours per week.

Who is Te Kura for?

The Te Kura early childhood programme caters to children aged two to school age who may not be able to make it to another early childhood education service locally. Most children start school at five, but they can enrol with Te Kura early childhood until they’re six. 

Te Kura is for children who:

  • Live more than 6km from the nearest licensed early childhood centre
  • Shift homes often
  • Have high health needs
  • Have special developmental needs
  • Can’t attend a local early childhood centre due to special circumstances

“Te Kura’s early childhood education service has been a great experience for both my children and our family. We live 33km from the nearest township, on a sheep and beef farm. We felt it was impractical to attend any ECE centre more than once a week. Te Kura filled this gap brilliantly.”

Te Kura Parent

What services does Te Kura provide? 

Te Kura provides full-time and part-time early childhood education programmes

Teachers post out learning materials and parental resources to families and stay in regular contact. Plus, Te Kura events provide a chance for families to meet teachers face-to-face. 

Te Kura teachers:

  • Work with parents and children to plan activities and learning experiences 
  • Loan books, puzzles, educational games, CDs and DVDs, posters and art materials
  • Provide parents with play activity ideas, learning experiences and information about child development and parenting
  • Organise achievement days and events 

Parents supervise their child’s Te Kura learning by:

  • Reading and replying to teachers’ messages
  • Reading books to their child often
  • Encouraging and supporting their child when they use the learning materials
  • Completing the comments sheet in the posting
  • Returning postings regularly

Parents are also encouraged to send in photos of their child and samples of their artwork to build a relationship between teacher and child. 

“Learning at a distance doesn’t have to mean learning alone.”

Te Kura

What are the benefits of Te Kura?

Te Kura ensures that children do not miss out on the advantages of attending a local early childhood education service, and it is focused on helping pre-schoolers achieve their potential. 

Te Kura benefits families by:

  • Making early learning accessible to all
  • Creating learning programmes based on each child’s interests, abilities and circumstances
  • Developing children’s skills and knowledge
  • Supporting children’s well-being
  • Providing families with resources, advice and support 
  • Incorporating parental feedback in children’s learning programmes

How does licensing work for Te Kura?

Te Kura is a chartered early education service that is funded by the Ministry of Education. Like other early childhood education services, Te Kura is licensed under the Education (Early Childhood Services) Regulations 2008. 

To remain licensed, Te Kura must meet minimum government standards covering:

  • Curriculum 
  • Qualifications, ratios and service size
  • Premises and facilities
  • Health and safety practices
  • Governance, management and administration

Te Kura undertakes self-reviews and is also monitored by the Education Review Office

How much does Te Kura cost?

There are no fees for children who meet the Ministry of Education’s enrolment criteria

Gateways for enrolment with Te Kura early childhood are: 

  • Distance: The child lives more than 6km from the nearest licensed early childhood centre
  • Itinerancy: They’re travelling at least six months of the year, continuously
  • High health needs: The child, their siblings or care-giver have a medical condition that prevents the child attending an early childhood centre
  • Special developmental needs: The child has special development needs that aren’t catered for at their local early childhood environment
  • Special circumstances: There are special circumstances that prevent attendance at local early childhood centres
  • Ministry referral: Children who don’t fit any of the above gateways and are not enrolled in any licensed ECE service for more than eight hours per week can be enrolled as a referral by the Ministry of Education


NZ Government Early Learning
Te Kura Schools
Te Kura Early Childhood Service

Related Articles

Article image

What types of child care are there?

An overview of the different child care services available to families, including centre based care and in-home care options, and how families can access them.

Article image

How to help your child successfully settle in to child care

Being the new kid on the block can be a daunting experience for young children. To help your tyke get off to a great start, here are some ways to prepare them for life at care.

Article image

The value of visiting child care services

Visiting child care centres offers valuable insights and opportunities to ask questions, which makes it easier to decide which service is right for your family.