Things To Look Out For When Choosing A Child Day Care
The time has come for you to find a childcare centre for your child. Once you start doing your homework it seems like you are spoilt for choice – there are so many options to choose from…. How do you make the right decision?
This is a decision that most parents struggle with – you want to do the right thing for your child. You want them to be loved, to be safe, to be learning, but above all you want them to be happy.
There are so many things to think of when on the hunt for a quality childcare centre and this will vary from person to person. What is important for you will be dependent on your personality, the personality of your child and the priorities of your family. Here are some things to consider when choosing a daycare centre for your child:
Do your homework
Ask other parents whose opinions you trust for their recommendations and about their experiences. However, be aware that experiences are subjective and will vary from person to person so don’t just take their word for it.
Trust your intuition
All of us have great intuition, you might interpret this as a “gut feeling”. How do you feel when you walk through the doors – what is the vibe? Does the centre feel like the right fit for you and your family? Does it feel right for you?
Consider your child in the setting
Just as you get a sense of an environment by how it makes you feel, observe your child in the environment. Do they appear to be happy, calm and at home in the environment? Do they seem keen to explore? Are there things in the setting that excite them and take their interest? Keep in mind that some children might be reserved or shy in the new surroundings.
What are the staff doing?
Observe the people in the centre. How warm and welcoming are they towards you and your child? Do they take an interest in you and your child? Do they remember your names? Take a look at how they are interacting with the other children in the setting. Are they attentive, warm and affirming? Do they get down to the children’s level when they are interacting with them? Do they talk to and treat the children with respect?
The centre that is the right fit for you and your child will treat you as unique individuals. You will feel this by the way that the teachers interact with you and towards the children in the space.
Find out how they cater for individual needs as well as the learning dispositions and interests of individual children. Ask to see the planning and find out how you can be part of your child’s learning at the centre.
Find out about the philosophy and the policies
The centre’s philosophy is a statement about “what matters” to the people at the centre. It is an outline of the centre values and beliefs or approaches towards children’s learning. As a parent, it is important to see if the centre philosophy aligns with your family’s values and beliefs. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get clarification about things that you don’t understand.
It is important to find out about the centre’s policies especially around food and nutrition, health and safety, positive guidance and illness. If the centre provides meals, what does the menu look like? Is the food healthy and nutritious? How does the centre cater for dietary requirements and allergies?
It is important to note that if this is your child’s first time in childcare outside of the home that they may be more susceptible to colds and viruses, especially in the first year.
Adult: Child ratios and group sizes
One of the most important indicators of a quality centre is teacher: child ratios and groups sizes. Currently the minimum teacher: child ratio for children under the age of two is 1:5 and the minimum teacher: child ratio for children over the age of two is 1:10.
Quality interactions matter too, as ratios are meaningless if the adults are constantly engaged in conversations with each other or preoccupied with cleaning instead of giving the children their full attention.
Observe the environment. Does it seem busy, crowded or overstimulating? Children sometimes spend many hours in a childcare centre and this can be overwhelming and exhausting for little ones. Are there quiet spaces that they can retreat if they need to relax or unwind?
What are the routines and rituals of the centre?
Routines and rituals mainly centre around the care moments for young children such as eating, nappy changing or toileting, changing clothing and sleeping. These moments are important times for nurturing our children both physically and emotionally. It is through these care moments that we support our children to develop trust in the world around them, autonomy as well as self-esteem.
Find out about the centre’s care routines and rituals and if possible, observe them. Are they slow, at the child’s pace and enjoyable to be part of? Are they affirming for the child, flexible and do they take into account the needs of individual children?
What to do next?
You might find that you have visited a few centres and have a shortlist, but you are still having trouble making up your mind. Take the time to reflect on your visit to these centres and make a list of things that you might have questions about or like to find out a little more about.
I would recommend giving your shortlist centres another visit at a different time of the day or try giving the centres on your shortlist a call with your questions after your visit. No question is too small or silly, it’s important that you feel comfortable with your choice.
Munchkin Services Pty Ltd has an open door policy and you are free to visit as many times as you like. Give them a call today to see if they are a perfect fit for you and your child.