Finding the right childcare centre can be stressful, particularly as you’re trusting a stranger with the most important person in your life. But childcare centres are also a wonderful way to help your child develop. They are nurturing, will enhance their growth and development, and allow them a space – away from the home – where they can learn, create and have fun with friends. It gives children some independence, and at the same time, it gives parents back some time of their own.
When searching for a centre, there are a few things you need to consider so you choose the right space for your little one. Here are a few things to think about:
Do Your Research
Make sure you spend plenty of time searching online, checking out websites and of course, the reviews. You can search for specific childcare centres, or you might just search for centres available in your local area, such as “childcare centres in Port Macquarie”. Once you’ve found a few centres of interest, you can look at the smaller details of each centre. Check whether they have a waiting list, learn about their philosophies and see if your child fits their age groups.
Child to Teacher Ratios
These are extremely important. To start with, it’s the law that centres only have a certain number of children per educator. But more crucial is that the more teachers there are, the better care your child will receive. Children need to feel nurtured, and if there’s only one teacher in a room with 20 children, it’s likely your child could be missing out. The general ratio is one teacher per five children for those aged under two years old, and one teacher per 10 children for those aged over two years.
Routines & Rituals
Are routines important in your home? If so, you want to choose a centre that is either understanding of your personal routines and will try to adhere to them, or that has routines you are happy with – that your child can adjust to (and you can then implement these in the home). Does the centre have a particular routine that they adhere to when it comes to nappy changes (how often do they check, etc)? Do they encourage toileting at all times, eating at the same time each day, naps, and so on.
Health & Safety
When you leave your child in someone else’s hands, you want to make sure they are safe and being taken care of. When it comes to health, make sure the centre you choose has plenty of outdoor space, or at least plenty of rooms where children can run around and get some exercise. Also, check out the nutritional policy of the centre – if they provide the food, you want your child to be fed plenty of fresh fruit, vegetables, grains and all the good stuff that will keep them energised.
If you’ve found a centre you like on paper, but they don’t respond to your emails, answer messages or phone calls – it’s a good sign that you should move on to the next centre. You want to have your child in a centre where open communication is not only encouraged, but also adhered to. Find a centre that will allow you to voice your concerns, talk to the teachers about how your child is doing, and that communicate with your regularly to ensure you have peace of mind.
Once you factor these into your search, you’ll find it’s much easier to choose a centre for your little one. Talk to the centre director and educators, tell them what you’re after and see if they can accommodate. And of course, trust your intuition. If you don’t feel as though a particular centre is right for your little on, keep searching.