Daycare, early education and care, preschool – however you refer to it, it’s an important consideration for families.
The early education and care sector has moved so far beyond merely child care, due to its fundamental role in a child’s development.
Research from the NSW Government shows that 90 per cent of brain development occurs in the first five years of life. As the brain grows, it is strongly influenced by what’s happening in a child’s environment and their interactions with people around them.
Enrolling your child in early childhood education is a valuable opportunity to help them explore their world and develop new skills that will stay with them as they grow.
We’ve identified below some important considerations to help guide you in making the right decision for you and your child.
Belinda Ludlow Chief Executive Officer
IT’S IMPORTANT TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK, AS EARLY EDUCATION MATTERS.
Quality and safety
It’s important to bear in mind that all childcare service types in Australia are regulated under the National Quality Framework and are monitored and assessed to ensure legal and quality requirements are met.
Ask the services that you’re considering what their ratings are in the seven National Quality Standard areas, as listed below:
Do the opening hours of the service work with your work commitments?
Does the daily fee include all the essentials?
Is parking or public transport available for an easy drop off / pick up?
What are the qualifications of the staff? What’s the mix of degree qualified early childhood teachers and diploma qualified and Certificate III staff members?
What is the average length of tenure? Low staff turnover is ideal for continuity of care.
Does the service continue to invest in its people and offer an ongoing professional development program that ensures that educators’ skills remain current and best practice?
Does the service Director have the maturity and experience to enact decisions on their own, to support you when needed?
One of the benefits of choosing an Explore & Develop service is that they are independently owned and operated. The owner is on-site and able to oversee the daily operations. They’re constantly seeking to improve the service to meet the needs of families and staff and you have a direct point of contact if you have any concerns.
BOOK A TOUR
The next step is to make an enquiry and book a tour with the service. You may need to visit a few on your list to get a feel for the similarities, differences and aspects that you like the most.
Importantly, trust your instincts. You know your child and how they might respond to certain environments and people.
Notice your first impression – does it have a good feeling? Are staff friendly and welcoming? Do Educators act in a professional way?
Make sure you meet the Educators on your tour, especially the ones that will be looking after your child.
THINGS TO LOOK FOR DURING YOUR TOUR
On your visit, there are specific things you can look for and questions you may ask. These include:
Watch for quality interactions while you walk around the service. Observe how Educators interact with children and one another. Ask yourself:
Do Educators speak respectfully to children?
Are they spending their time engaging with them calmly and on their level?
Are the children happy and engaged?
Are they being comforted if they are upset?
Establishing quality interactions between children, Educators and families is crucial to achieving positive learning outcomes for children.
Environment and safety
Does the physical setting contain natural play spaces where children can explore, discover and develop connections with their environment?
Is it a clean space? Do the Educators model effective hygiene practices to reduce the spread of illness? Be careful not to confuse cleanliness with mess. Most play spaces for children will have spilled paint or toys on the floor. Children are engaged and learning when they are making a mess!
Ask the Educators:
What is the daily routine? Are there a variety of activities each day? Look around the space and ensure it is adequately resourced for each age group. Children engaging in a range of play experiences is a positive sign.
Do toileting, nappy changing and rest times meet individual needs?
How does the service utilise the outdoor learning environment? Look for natural play spaces that are age appropriate and provide challenges for children to learn, play and develop. Outdoor environments should extend and challenge not only children’s physical wellbeing, but also encourage children to take considered risks in their play, all the while developing their problem solving abilities and building their resilience.
Ask the Educators:
How are children’s interests included in the program? Even though it is a group educational setting, Educators should be planning for children’s learning on an individual basis through play-based experiences. Literacy, mathematical and scientific concepts should be embedded into everyday programs. For example – Educators singing, talking and reading with infants and toddlers as well as preschool children is crucial. Children should be provided with hands-on learning opportunities, resources and materials to promote their development.
How are families involved in the program? Find out if there are expectations for involvement and ways you can be involved if you would like to.
HOW DOES THE CHILDCARE SUBSIDY WORK?
The Australian Government supports families in their choice to use childcare while they are at work by subsiding some or all of their childcare fees. This is a means-tested system with more financial support for lower income families.
To be eligible for the childcare subsidy, families must provide the age of the child, the child’s immunisation status, the parents’ residency status and the chosen childcare service must be an approved provider. Approved providers include centre-based care, family day care, outside school hours care and in-home care. It does not include preschool or any compulsory education program, such as school. (child care subsidy calculator)
WHY CHOOSE EXPLORE & DEVELOP?
At Explore & Develop, we will guide you every step of the way and lead you into a partnership where you are a valuable contributor to your child’s learning.
All Explore & Develop services are individually owned and operated, by passionate professionals who are on site daily, ensuring high quality education and care.
We provide a haven for everyday discovery and learning. Our environments are natural and reflective of home.
We offer daily programs that reflect a calm, relaxed and unrushed environment for growing and learning.
We value the commitment, dedication, and professionalism of our Educators and their desire to give every child a great start in life.
WHY EXPLORE & DEVELOP?
All Explore & Develop services are individually owned and operated by committed franchise owners who have been carefully selected because of their dedication, skills and passion for ensuring that every child gets a great start in life.