Choosing a Childcare Centre with confidence – Make a decision you can feel great about with these insider tips
The time has come to return to the office and thus find a place for our little guy to spend his time while I’m at work. I found deciding on a childcare centre ALMOST as overwhelming as deciding on a pram!
Did you know that a child’s brain develops most rapidly between birth and five years old? Research shows that quality education and care during these years leads to better health, education and employment outcomes later in life. These years are critical for establishing self-esteem, resilience, healthy growth and capacity to learn (National Quality Framework) Oh the pressure!! Knowing all this, it was so important to me that I felt confident with who I was entrusting with my child's care.
I toyed with the idea of a nanny, family day care and flexible casual care alternatives but made the decision to go with a Childcare centre based on my son’s personality – a million miles an hour and best entertained by a big bunch of children, heaps of activities and needing to keep a bit of routine and structure.
There are a heap of centres out there and I had no idea where to start. To combat the overwhelm I enlisted the help of an expert - working mum of three and Early Childhood Teacher Alison Uren. I am so grateful to have been able to gain direction from her eleven years of experience in childcare centres, preschools and schools. Here are her extremely valuable insider tips for choosing a Childcare centre so that you too can find a solution that you feel great about.
Edit your options
Personally, I got stuck in procrastination mode before finally asking for help and left my decision a little late so I had some options crossed of the list for me straight away. If you’re forced to settle for a childcare spot that isn’t your first preference don’t stress - keep your eyes open for alternatives and your name on the waiting lists until something more suitable comes up.
Do your research
Check out as many childcare services as you can. Ensure that the childcare service is registered and at least meeting the minimum requirement of the National quality standard. If the centre is marked as ‘Exceeding’ in all areas that’s even better.
Check out the services policies and procedures; ask questions about it specific to your family’s circumstances e.g. Does your child have any additional needs?
Drop in unannounced
Don’t book in and give them an opportunity to make sure they turn on their A-game!! You want to see what the everyday looks like. While there are national benchmarks for childcare centres and FAQs on centre websites, there is a lot of equally important information that you can only discover in person. Drop in unannounced, pick up enrolment forms and have a look around.
Check out these key things
It’s a big step sending your child to be cared for by complete strangers. It’s ok to ask a heap of questions! I'd rather be the annoying mum than the one leaving beside myself with nerves every day wondering if my child is safe and happy. If the staff are open to your barrage of questions and answer professionally and confidently that’s a good gauge on how you’ll feel about communicating with them in the future. Here are a few things you might want to ask about.
Use your resources
There are so many great resources available to you in addition to your own detective work.