Learning Support: What Is It?

Learning Support: What Is It?

Your child may need learning support if they have any challenges with learning or in everyday life.


When might my child need learning support?

Your child may need extra support if they have needs that are affecting their learning or everyday life, such as:

  • developmental delays with talking, walking or playing with others
  • hearing or vision difficulties
  • difficulties with learning, communicating or getting along with others
  • social and emotional wellbeing concerns

What kind of learning support is available?

There are many opportunities to support specific learning needs at early childhood centres and schools There are also a range of ways the Ministry of Education can support you and your child’s teachers if your child has learning support needs.

An Individual Plan 

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) or an Individual Plan (IP) can support your child’s participation and learning.  The early learning or school team may develop this with you. These plans will identify specific goals that can support your child’s development. 

Extra specialist support

If necessary, a learning support specialist may work with you and your child’s learning team to support your child’s participation and learning. The Ministry of Education provides this specialist support.

Special equipment

There may be special equipment or assistive technology available to support your child's learning. This is equipment that helps tamariki (children) fully participate and learn alongside their classmates.

Incredible Years Programmes

There are 2 Incredible Years Programmes for parents and whānau (family). Incredible Years Parent (ages 3 to 8) and Incredible Years Autism (ages 2 to 5). These programmes provide you with specific skills to build on your relationships with your child. These skills encourage your child's play, language, learning and social and emotional development. The Ministry of Education and other contracted providers run these programmes for parents and caregivers. 

See the Ministry of Education website for more information on the Incredible Years Programmes.

Will there be any cost for Ministry of Education Learning Support services?

Ministry of Education Learning Support services are government-funded and are free to schools and early childhood centres.

You may need to give some information to help your child's teacher make an application for the following 2 types of funding.

Ongoing Resourcing Scheme (ORS)

See the KidsHealth page about learning support when your child has significant needs

School High Health Needs Fund and regional health schools

See the KidsHealth page about learning support when your child has high health needs

See more KidsHealth information about learning support

See the KidsHealth page on learning support before your child goes to school

See the KidsHealth page on learning support when your child is at school


Learning Support Action Plan 2019–2025, Ministry of Education.


The Paediatric Society of New Zealand acknowledge the cooperation of the Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga in making this content available to parents, caregivers and whānau.

This page last reviewed 05 December 2023.

Call Healthline on 0800 611 116 any time of the day or night for free health advice when you need it