Planning for early childhood education
Starting early childhood education is your child’s first step in their schooling journey outside your home.
If your child has a disability or you think they might need some additional help, you can get support for them in every part of their education.
This page will give you an idea of what your child’s options are in early childhood education.
Every child’s needs are different, and support for your child will be designed for them specifically throughout their life at school.
This is especially the case in early childhood, as no two children develop at the same pace.
Where to start
You may know that your child needs extra help to develop new skills, or has not yet met some of the milestones for their age. You may not know if they will need short or long term support.
There is help available to guide you through the process of assessing your child’s developmental needs.
You may want to find out more about:
- where and how to start getting support
- early intervention support and the NDIS Early Childhood Approach
- what kind of early childhood education service your child might attend
- preparing for your child to be supported in school.
Contacting NDIS Early Childhood partners
If you aren’t sure what kind of support your child might need, start by contacting a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) early childhood partner.
NDIS early childhood partners can help you by:
- giving advice on what kind of support your child can access
- putting you in touch with the support in your local area
- helping you understand the NDIS and what it does.
NDIS early childhood partners are able to support you and your child whether or not they have a diagnosis. You can contact them yourself, or a doctor or other medical professional can refer you to one.
They can give you advice and recommend support services in your community.
NDIS early childhood partners are part of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is a way of providing support for people with disability and their families.
Early intervention supports
Early intervention is specialised support for any young child who might have a disability or additional learning and support needs.
Early intervention does not only help your child, but will often involve the whole family.
It is aimed at assisting your child's development and helping them be part of the community.
Early intervention includes a wide range of services and support. The Department of Education is one provider of this support.
What kind of early childhood education services are available?
You can choose between several different kinds of early childhood education service for your child.
- preschool, typically for children aged 3 and over
- long day care, which may enrol children from 6 weeks of age
- family daycare, which may also enrol children from 6 weeks of age
- outside hours school care and vacation care
- occasional care
- mobile services.
You can access support and adjustments at these services. There are also some services aimed at families with specific circumstances, or tailored for children with additional needs.
- Find out more about different kinds of Early childhood education services.
- Use the Australian Government’s Starting Blocks or Service NSW’s early childhood education and care provider finder to search for early childhood education services in your area.
Preparing for school
All children in NSW have the right to attend their local public school, and it’s never too early to get in touch with your local school to talk about your child’s needs.
By talking to the school early you are giving them more time to prepare to put support in place for your child.
For example, they can apply for funding to do building works to make the school more physically accessible by installing ramps or accessible toilets, but this work takes time to do.
If you think your child might need changes made to the school buildings, then try to talk to the school at least two years before you want your child to start.
When contacting the school, ask to make an appointment with the staff members who help parents of children with additional needs - it might be their learning and support team or the school principal.
They will be able to tell you more about what support is available, and what decisions you can make about how and where your child can learn.
You can use the School Finder tool to find your local public school.