28 Tips On How To Choose A Childcare Centre

I will never forget the week before I had to put Master E into child care for the first time; it was hell. I felt guilty, I felt sadness, I felt worried and I cried…a lot. I remember asking myself if I was doing the right thing, joining the ranks of working mums. I also remember being worried because I didn’t know how to choose a childcare. I was worried my decision could lead to selecting the wrong one and that I would never know because, at that stage, Master E was too little to tell me.

how to choose a childcare centre
Now that Elliott is in grade one and Miss M is happily in the same child care centre he was, I look back on what I’ve learnt through our experience at family daycares and childcare centres. I now realise what a damn huge and overwhelming decision it is for a mother to make for the first time. It is now with experience up my sleeve (good and bad) that I know how to choose a childcare centre.

Our childcare experience

Master E started off in family daycare when he was one. We chose family daycare because we wanted something that was homely and so that with the small numbers, he was well attended to. But as he grew older, it is evident that he needed to interact and socialise with more kids his age. The family daycare homes he had been in may have only had one or two children his age. This decision lead us to put him into a childcare centre.

As time went on at the childcare centre, Master E’s separation anxiety grew worse and consequently, my productivity at work was at an all-time low. It came to the point where I was left in tears as I sat in my car outside the centre because Elliott was so distraught he’d pinch me and pull my hair so tight. I was new at this, I thought it was normal and something that would pass, but, it didn’t.

My mummy instinct started to kick in, and I started to take notice. There was never the same educator at drop off. Children were left to roam around without a teacher nearby. The staff turnover was very high. And then, one day after I dropped Master E off, again crying his little eyes out, I peeked through the fence to see if he was ok. My heart was broken to see that the educator who I thought would look after him and console him, simply put him in the sandpit with two other children and left him. The look on his face broke my heart, and I cried my heart out in the car. He was only two.

As soon as I got home, I called another childcare centre I’d had my eyes on and was amazed they had a spot free. Our family has been at this centre ever since.

How to choose a childcare centre

If you’re new to the whole childcare arrangement just like I was or you’re still trying to decide 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.

  1. Is it a relaxed and happy atmosphere?
  2. Are the children happy?
  3. Is the centre clean?
  4. Is there natural light as opposed to being in a windowless room?
  5. 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?
  6. Is food provided? If so, is it healthy, varied and are dietary requirements catered for?
  7. Do the centre’s values match your family values?
  8. Does the centre have a good reputation?
  9. Does the centre have a stimulating curriculum for children? Ask questions about the program.
  10. Are the staff properly qualified?
  11. Is there a high staff turnover? Why?
  12. Is the centre licensed and assessed under the National Quality Framework?
  13. What is the centres rating? You can check here.
  14. What is the staff to child ratio? You can see what they should be here.
  15. Did you feel welcome when you visited the centre?
  16. Did the centre staff take an interest in your child when you went to visit?
  17. Did the staff offer to take you on tour?
  18. Is there enough space for the children to play and for children to have ‘quiet play’?
  19. How much time do they spend outdoors?
  20. Is the children’s artwork displayed in the centre?
  21. Are the toys, play equipment and areas safe and not damaged?
  22. Are there toys that allow for open-ended play and encourage the use of imagination?
  23. Are rules implemented and followed?
  24. Is there structure and routine?
  25. Where do the children sleep? Ask to have a look.
  26. Are the toilets/bathroom clean and suitable for children to use?
  27. Are there health & safety procedures for when accidents may occur? What is the process?
  28. What extracurricular activities are on offer at the centre? This is a personal preference of mine, but one of the reasons I selected Master E’s new 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.

There are so many questions to ask and consider, 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 when you’ve found the right one, you will very much rely on your motherly instincts.

When it comes to how to choose a childcare centre, one thing I cannot recommend enough is asking for feedback about different childcare centres and family daycare mums from friends and acquaintances.  Most often than not, recommendations are usually the best way to get an accurate feeling for a centre.

What tips would you share with a mum looking for a childcare centre for the first time?

 

 

 

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

Eva is the Editor and Owner of The Multitasking Woman. She always has her fingers in many different pies but wouldn't have it any other way. Eva is a freelance writer, a social media manager, a Mum to her six-year-old son, one-year-old daughter, six chickens and Benny the dog and wife to Mr G. They all live happily in their little worker's cottage in Ipswich, Queensland, Australia.
Eva Lewis (The Multitasking Woman)

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32 Comments

  1. July 30, 2015 / 7:54 pm

    I wish I had this to read 3 weeks ago. We just started at a new centre. But I think almost all of those things on your list seem to be checked off. What a great compilation you’ve made, Eva. Thanks. Super helpful. I’ll be keeping an eye out. I’ll share this on my page too.

  2. July 31, 2015 / 7:37 am

    A very helpful list, especially for first timers. We went with family daycare for our youngest which has been great for her. We may look at a centre for one day a week down the track.

    • July 31, 2015 / 6:48 pm

      Thanks Amy. We had Elliott in family daycare first up too and I find that a lot of these points are still relevant for family daycare.

  3. July 31, 2015 / 10:41 pm

    I found it stressful setting my little one into daycare – one day a week for almost six months now (how time flies!) but she handled it really well. I think it ticks all of your items above but I just checked it’s rating and it hasn’t been assessed?! weird..

    • August 3, 2015 / 10:10 pm

      It is stressful, actually one of the most stressful things I’ve done as a mum. I’m really not sure why it wouldn’t have been assessed. All I could recommend is reading more on the website or contacting the assessment organisation.

  4. August 10, 2015 / 8:41 pm

    Great and must follow 25 tips mentioned here in this post. Your child is soft as silk and you must be well assure about your child learning community. It’ll be the second home for your child and your child will learn lot of things from them.

  5. April 2, 2016 / 6:05 am

    Thank you for the post and the great tips. These are good things to look for when deciding on a child care. I think a good one to consider is if the place has a good reputation. I think that alone can tell you a lot about the place and if it would be a good choice consider.

  6. April 8, 2016 / 7:38 am

    Child care is something that you definitely don’t want to be lax on. However, it can be hard to think of questions to ask specifically to make sure it is a good fit. I’ll have to print off this list and take it with me when I am considering which facility to go with.

  7. April 9, 2016 / 12:54 am

    I think that making sure that any potential daycare is clean and welcoming is the most important thing to look out for. While having a clean, open facility doesn’t guarantee that your child will be well taken care of, it is a good start. Taking reputation, cleanliness, and the facilities at a potential daycare into account can help you choose the right place for you and your child. Thanks for all the tips.

  8. April 22, 2016 / 8:25 am

    You list a lot of questions when it comes to finding a day care center! You’ve given me a lot to think about. I understand where you’re coming from. When it comes to our children’s health and care, we want the best. I’m going to take these to heart and find a day care that’s perfect for my child!

  9. June 26, 2016 / 12:56 am

    Choosing a perfect child care can be a difficult decision for families. This decision will depend on your family’s needs and the environment with which you and your child will feel very comfortable and safe.

  10. July 21, 2016 / 4:52 am

    Child care facilities sound like a good option to help you child get socialization. I am impressed that child care centers teach children accountability in being in the care of another individual all day. I would agree that trusting another with your child is important just as much as having faith in the service provider is a must in order to get the best relationship possible with the childcare provider, Thanks so much for sharing!

  11. September 13, 2016 / 7:45 pm

    Choosing a good child care needs to be strict. You must also consider a lot of factors and be strict in checking them out.

  12. November 1, 2016 / 4:49 pm

    Child care services are always available for mom’s in need of help in taking care of their child. But before that they must be checked thoroughly for safety.

  13. November 15, 2016 / 5:39 pm

    Really informative. What is a few expenses for the welfare of your child right? Always get the best child care for your own peace of mind.

    • November 16, 2016 / 11:54 pm

      For many children, preschool is their first experience in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children. It’s an opportunity to learn to share, follow instructions, and begin the foundation for learning that will occur in elementary school.

      • November 29, 2016 / 4:53 pm

        A good day care would inquire more about the kid not only in academic performance but also in their manners.

  14. November 29, 2016 / 4:52 pm

    A good day care would inquire more about the kid not only in academic performance but also in their manners.

  15. December 21, 2016 / 11:50 pm

    For many children, preschool is their first experience in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children. It’s an opportunity to learn to share, follow instructions, and begin the foundation for learning that will occur in elementary school.

  16. January 3, 2017 / 4:50 pm

    Child care services are always available for mom’s in need of help in taking care of their child. But before that they must be checked thoroughly for safety.

  17. January 18, 2017 / 3:57 pm

    And every parent must know their child too to know if they can fit in with the surroundings of the day care.

  18. January 18, 2017 / 11:28 pm

    Until your baby can talk, you will be relying on what the caregiver tells you about your child’s day. Make sure you can communicate comfortably with each other. When you first hand off your child in the morning, you should tell the caregiver how your little one slept the night before, if he is teething, and whether he ate breakfast.

  19. February 2, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    Day care centers help parents in taking care of their children when they can’t for circumstances.

  20. February 16, 2017 / 6:53 pm

    Thanks, For sharing useful tips with us, I take care of things when choosing the child care center for my child.

  21. March 9, 2017 / 12:35 am

    For many children, preschool is their first experience in a structured setting with teachers and groups of children. It’s an opportunity to learn to share, follow instructions, and begin the foundation for learning that will occur in elementary school.

  22. March 21, 2017 / 11:34 pm

    Great article, One of the greatest concerns parents have in bringing their child into a daycare is safety. so it is so much important to choose a right child care for your child.

  23. April 19, 2017 / 1:20 am

    One of the biggest benefits of daycare is socialization, because kids have to learn how to share, solve problems and be team players. And at a well-run program with teachers who have a strong education background, kids learn to use their voices to solve conflicts.

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