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How to choose a childcare centre

Updated: 7 days ago


How to choose a childcare centre

It is so important to make the right decision about childcare for your family. There are various options parents can choose from, these include: a nanny, children’s club, grandmother, private or public childcare service, to name a few. The choice depends on the capabilities and needs of the family individually. Research shows quality early education is extremely valuable in the first five years of a child’s life, as it lays a foundation for a lifetime of learning.

There are many things to consider when selecting the best option and starting early and making sure you do your research is vital. Good childcare is easier to find now, but there are many questions a parent will have besides the obvious points like compliance with sanitary standards. It is recommended determining what you specifically want from a childcare centre. Understanding service quality under the National Quality Framework (NQF) and National Quality Standard (NQS) is vital. Approved services across Australia are required to meet high national standards to ensure your child is safe and is given opportunities for learning and development on a regular basis.

The following advice provides a good start for parents to consider when choosing the right childcare service:

  • Location. Finding centres close to home or work;

  • The size of the centre is important to consider to meet the needs of your child’s personality;

  • Make sure the operating hours suit your family;

  • Check the ratings, Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s website will provide the quality ratings for the service you are considering;

  • Do the fees suit your budget and what extras are included? ie; nappies, food and sunscreen;

  • Is the centre and staff welcoming? Does it provide the needs that are important to your family?

  • What educational program is provided?

  • Sensory stimulation to spark your child’s curiosity;

  • Whether you think your child needs the activities offered;

  • Does the facility’s policy on walks, exercise, and nutrition aligns with your views;

  • Does is have a range of well-maintained, safe and educational equipment?

  • A menu service that meets your child’s dietary needs;

  • Communicate on your children’s progress in learning or well being;

  • Provide safe indoor and outdoor play facilities;

  • Hygiene, safety, emergency and evacuation procedures.

A great tip is to organise a visit for your family.

A tour will give you an idea how the centre works and what the staff are like.

How do you know if your child is ready for childcare?

This is the most important question and most parents have difficulty finding an answer to. Readiness for a child to attend childcare is very individual. Check the services requirements in advance, such as the ability to ask for the potty and to be able to use cutlery and to nap a certain amount of times in a day. Can your child spend several hours in a row without you? If you leave and the child cries for a short time and then switches to play, it’s normal. But if they are sad all the time, waiting for parents, refusing to play and eat or feeling bad - it’s not time. The age at which a child is ready to spend time without parents is different for everyone. To see if your child is ready for childcare you can start practicing weaning beforehand. Try to leave your child with a trusted relative for a while or visit a children’s play club. Be sure to say goodbye to your child before you leave, don’t disappear suddenly and “unnoticed”, the child will definitely notice your absence. Children love certainty, so give simple concrete guidelines: “You’ll play now, then you’ll eat and then I’ll come back”.

Of course, it’s not just the child who needs to be prepared for childcare, but also the parents. Parental anxiety can seriously interfere with a child’s ability to adapt to change. Parents often experience feelings of guilt. If you set a positive attitude and understand it can be good for your child’s development and confidence, you and your child will adjust to your new life much quicker.

Choosing and getting ready for a children’s education and care service can be an exciting time. It’s important to do your research and ensure the service provides a positive experience for your child to learn and grow and develop their personality in readiness for school.

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