Selecting a childcare centre is an important decision, and with so many facilities to choose from, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There are a number of important considerations to keep in mind when it comes to finding the right centre for your child and your family. By making a well-planned decision, you can ensure that your child has access to a fantastic educational foundation.
Finding a centre
Finding the perfect centre for your child is no easy task, but there are resources available to help you in your search. First, make sure that you have a clear idea of the kind of childcare you’re looking for. Do you plan to pursue long daycare, occasional care, family daycare, or something else?
Once you know this, start looking for childcare facilities in your local area. MyXplor is a helpful tool in this process, enabling parents to filter and search for nearby centres. For example, a parent based in Dandenong might visit the MyXplor Dandenong page to find a list of centres in the area.
Knowing what to look for
When researching and visiting prospective centres, it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of a great learning environment. Observe the activities and the atmosphere in the centre you’re visiting. Are children engaged in play or learning activities? Are they laughing, smiling, or communicating with their peers and educators? What are the ratios of children to educators?
Look for educators who get down to children’s level to interact with them and who treat children as individuals. Take note of whether children have access to educational toys and resources, and look for evidence of great educational activities and safe centre practices.
Understanding education approaches
The right childcare centre for your family will be one that takes an educational approach that aligns with your own vision for your child’s learning, so ask questions to gain an understanding of how your prospective centre delivers its educational programs.
Some centres take a play-based approach to early education, enabling children to learn and explore at their own pace, while other centres offer more structured curriculum programs that use intentional teaching to introduce literacy, numeracy, and other academic concepts. Trust your instincts, and share your own beliefs on how you’d like your child’s learning journey to be supported.
Learning what’s on offer
Childcare centres offer a range of programs and inclusions, so to get a clear picture of what a centre has to offer, ask questions and research inclusions and extracurriculars. Does this centre offer additional learning programs in an area such as art, sport, or a foreign language? Are children able to engage in excursions and extracurricular activities?
It’s also important to anticipate day-to-day processes. Some childcare centres have onsite cooks who prepare nutritional snacks and lunches for children, while other centres rely on parents to provide children with healthy meals. Likewise, some centres provide nappies, whereas others ask parents to provide them. Find out what your prospective centre has to offer and what other costs might go beyond your child’s enrolment fees.
With a strong plan in place, it’s easy to ask the right questions and choose a great early learning centre to support your child’s growth and development.