When you begin the search for child care, you may be experiencing a range of emotions. When your full-time job has been taking care of your precious and beloved child, it feels like a daunting task to find a child care provider that can carry this responsibility. Choosing the right place for your child to learn, develop, and grow is not a decision to rush or compromise.
Begin investigating your options by making a list of child care services that are most important to you. Then, take your time as you visit, interview, and explore the services available in your area. As you begin this journey, here are a few important factors to consider.
Location and Convenience
The reasons you are exploring child care likely involve the demands of life and work. Ensure that each Lake Haven child care centre you visit is within a reasonable commuting distance from your home or workplace. Consider your schedule to ensure that you will be able to make it in time to the child care centre for pick-up each day, as centres typically charge extra fees for late pick-ups.
Educator Qualifications and Staffing Levels
You should be able to review the training and qualifications of the child care professionals who will handle the safety and educational aspects of your child’s time outside your home. Look for energy, enthusiasm, and a sense of overall happiness in the staff and early childhood quality and safety ratings that meet or exceed expectations.
Ask about the educator-to-child ratio at the child care centre. Find out how many educators will look after your child, and whether the staffing roster is consistent.
Child care providers should align their services to the Early Years Learning Framework, which sets standards for curriculum and engagement at preschools and child care centres. Look for holistic programmes that incorporate social, emotional, cognitive, physical, and language development. Ask about the child care centre’s systems to communicate your child’s progress and tailor individualised learning. If this is your child’s first time spending days away from home, you will want to ensure that open and regular communication is an integral part of the child care centre’s offerings.
As a parent, you know how important a healthy diet with plenty of choice and variety is to your child’s physical and mental well-being. Look for a child care provider to offer delicious and fresh options with plenty of choices. Some providers provide progressive meals, meaning they will be open for an extended period while educators help children identify healthy choices and timing of their meals. If your child has any special dietary needs, ensure that the provider can accommodate these needs.
The transition to childcare outside the home is a big change for both you and your child, but it should not be traumatic. Ask questions about how the child care provider helps children to adjust smoothly to life at the centre. Quality providers will involve parents in a transition that gradually introduces the child to the new environment, educators, and other children. They will personalise a plan to minimise anxiety in separation and help your child adjust comfortably to their new surroundings.
Careful investigation of these and other factors are essential, but so are your gut feelings. Spend enough time at a possible child care provider’s facility that you get a feeling for the overall mood and quality of services provided. If the children and educators seem happy, safe, and comfortable, you are probably on the right track. You know your child best, and you should always trust your instincts.