NZ is a great place for kids young and old, and for mums and dads and grandparents who like to be kids, too !
There are amazing parks, walks, cycle tracks and playgrounds. There are glorious beaches and safe open spaces. There are animal farms, horse riding and loads of sports from soccer, netball, surfing, boating etc., to hop hop, dancing, gym, rugby, skiing and abseiling/mountaineering & more...
Because so many parents work and don't have access to domestic help or nannies, there is an abundance of creches and early childhood centres, which are staffed by fully qualified teachers. Small children and infants with special needs are able to have access to speech language, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and special education advisers, (as well as support from advisers of the deaf or blind regarding sign language, hearing aids, applying for cochlea implants, or about learning braille and mobility orientation). Children with challenging behaviour are referred to Education Ministry psychologists to support their learning and behaviour in school.
There are also fabulous parenting courses for parents, such as the evidence based award winning 14 week 'Incredible Years' Parent Programme, (which promotes social and emotional competence and school readiness and reduces challenging behaviour,) are presented by skilled, trained practitioners. (The Programme is devised in USA by Dr Carolyn Webster Stratton - a clinical psychologist and nurse). Programmes such as this are subsidised and cost the parents nothing.
Starship is the children's hospital in Auckland. It's is a major teaching hospital in paediatrics. www.starship.org.nz The hospital won an award for its medicine safety in 2005 and treats over 86,000 patients a year. Ill children who are hospitalised for lengthy periods are able to be schooled in hospital. There are also correspondence schools as well as home schooling offered in NZ for children with specific or unique needs. Some lessons are even offered via skype one to one between the teacher and the student.
NZ has an Inclusive Education System, but also a few highly specialised special schools with satellite classes in mainstream schools. More about that soon... NZ ranks 4th after S.Korea, Finland and Canada (Maths, Reading and Science) www.Guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2010/dec/ 07 - world-education-rankings, maths- science- reading.
Japan is 5th, Aussie 6th. USA is 14th and UK 20th.
Re University - NZ ranked top in the Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2009, followed by The Netherlands.