Parents who are scoping a child care centre have checklists of their own. But we did some of the hard work and put together some crucial points.
The Australian Children’s Education & Quality Care Authority is the governing body in child care standards. Reviews of centres are completed regularly and those who register as a child care must fill in a Quality Improvement Plan. Part of the assessor’s job is to examine whether the centre is living up to their goals or, preferably, exceeding them. The below quality areas are checked on every visit.
- Educational program and practice
- Health and safety
- The environment
- Staffing arrangements
- Relationships with the children
- Collaboration with community and family
Ideally, you feel right at home when you walk through the door. It’s a great sign if your son or daughter rushes off to say hello to their friends, though realistically this will take a few weeks.
A great child care centre has a variety of activities to help keep the kids engaged. There’s loose parts play, a sandpit, building blocks, books, and more for a full day of fun. One of the EYLF outcomes is children should become confident, involved learners. Seeing your little one chatting away with friends and carers is a great sign.
People have the qualifications and a few pieces of paper, but that’s half of the whole. Good carers are effective communicators not only with the children but also with the parents.
A great child care centre abides by the carer to child ratio (1:4, 1:5, and 1:11 for older kids). The staff aren’t afraid to answer parents questions either, no matter how hard. Nobody can work in childcare without a minimum Certificate III in Children’s Services. Eskay centres, for example, have a mix of carers with tertiary and university-level qualifications.
It’s also commonplace for child care centres to have students come in for a certain period of time to do their practical assessment. The more experienced staff take on the role of ‘supervisor’ during this time.
Children learn effectively through play. Critical thinking, vocabulary, math, and scientific skills are sharpened in activities adults would see as ‘plain old fun’. Other centres have a curriculum-style way of learning so there’s something for every parent to consider.
A good child care centre doesn’t stay within the bounds of their building. Excursions to local sights like the farm, a museum, or even Bunnings is both exciting and works the children’s brains. They learn about the world around them thanks to a trip to the local hardware store.
Parents who love their day care will have no trouble telling their friends about it. In a world where the number of two working parents is increasing, they want to know their child is in safe hands. Word-of-mouth is one of the most trusted review systems out there among parents with young kids.
Check the child care centre’s site as well. Besides the reviews, you’ll also find the ACECQA rating and other qualifications (Blue Card, CPR etc).
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