I will never forget the week before having to put Elliott into child care for the first time, it was hell. I felt guilt, I felt sadness, I felt worry, I cried…a lot. I remember asking myself if I was doing the right thing? I also remember being worried about choosing a child care centre, what happens if I picked the wrong one? I would never know because he couldn’t tell me.
If you’re new to the whole child care arrangement just like I was or you’re still trying to make a decision between centres, here are some of my suggestions of things to look out for when deciding whether a centre is right for you and your child. [tweetthis]Here are some suggestions of things to look out for when choosing the right child care centre. [/tweetthis]
- Is it a relaxed and happy atmosphere?
- Are the children happy?
- Is the centre clean?
- Is it secure? For example, do you need to sign your children in and out? Is there a security system where a pin is required?
- Is food provided? If so, is it healthy, varied and are dietary requirements catered for?
- Do the centres values match your family values?
- Does the centre have a good reputation?
- Does the centre have a stimulating curriculum for children? Ask questions about the program.
- Are the staff properly qualified?
- Is there a high staff turnover? Why?
- Is the centre licensed and assessed under the National Quality Framework?
- What is the centres rating? You can check here.
- What is the staff to child ratio? You can see what they should be here.
- Did you feel welcome when you visited the centre?
- Did the centre staff take interest in your child when you went to visit?
- Did the staff offer to take you on a tour?
- Is there enough space for the children to play and for children to have ‘quiet play’?
- Is the children’s artwork displayed around the centre?
- Are the toys, play equipment and areas safe and not damaged?
- Are rules implemented and followed?
- Is there structure and routine?
- Where do the children sleep? Ask to have a look.
- Are the toilets/bathroom clean and suitable for children to use?
- Are there health & safety procedures for when accidents may occur? What is the process?
- What extra curricular activities are on offer at the centre? This is a personal preference of mine but one of the reasons I selected my son’s current centre is due to their strong focus on things like permaculture and recycling – the children help grow the fruit and vegetables which are used in the children’s meals. The centre also has chickens and they learn about composting and recycling. Elliott’s centre also does Yoga with the children which I know he loves because he talks about it at home. I have used some Yoga focused calming techniques at home with Elliott to get him to calm or go to sleep. I believe that because this has been instilled in him at kindergarten, it’s easier for me to adopt at home.
There really are so many questions to ask and consider and my list doesn’t cover all of them, but these are the ones that are important to me. What I can say is that you will know, you will also end up following your instincts.
Another thing to do is ask friends and acquaintances. Most often than not, recommendations are usually the best way to get an accurate feeling for a centre.
What do you look for in a child care centre and what would you recommend to a first timer?