Until now, your child may have been cared for exclusively by you and your family. So understandably, leaving your child in the care of others is a big step for you as a parent. Choosing a childcare centre can seem overwhelming, but it need not be.
In this blog, we’ll provide a clear outline of childcare options to get you thinking about what you want (and don’t want) out of childcare. We’ll also let you know how to choose a good childcare provider and about some of the approaches (or philosophies) to childcare. All to help you determine how to find the ideal childcare solution.
With a little preparation and following our pointers on how to choose the right daycare, you will be well-placed to make a confident
decision. Not only for your child’s development and well-being, but for your own peace of mind.
What Should Parents Look For When Choosing Childcare?
So let’s take a closer look at what parents should look for when choosing childcare. What are your options?
You may choose to use a childcare centre or kindergarten. Using such facilities is a great way to socialise your child in a group setting. They are run according to different ideas or philosophies of child raising.
Choose a reputable centre located a short distance from your home or workplace for your convenience. With childcare centres, you have the assurance that staff and facilities are licensed and accredited for your child’s safety. However, the downside to being in a group setting is that your child may be prone to getting sick more often.
Another option to consider is in-home care – where a babysitter or nanny looks after your child at your home. This is convenient as you do not need to transport your child to a childcare centre or kindergarten. Your child obtains individual care, and you can request the carer to follow your specific schedule.
However, having in-home care limits the social interaction your child is exposed to – both with other children and other adults. If your carer is away or sick, there is generally no backup at the last minute. In-home care is also often more expensive. And given there are no regulations, the screening process for hiring a carer or nanny Is often more involved.
Choosing the Right Childcare Provider
Many types of childcare providers are available, and it is important to find one you trust to leave your child with. To help you make your decision, we recommend observing how the provider interacts with children and, specifically, how they are with your child during the interview process. For childcare centres, we suggest looking for online reviews and references from other parents in your area. In the case of in-house carers, ask for references and call referees. You may also want to conduct background checks.
Understanding the Different Philosophies of Childcare
If you want to choose a daycare service that aligns with your personal beliefs and values, investigate the philosophy of the childcare providers you are considering using.
Some of the philosophies (or approaches) include:
Montessori – This focuses on the belief that children are not ‘blank slates’ and have an innate desire to learn. Montessori learning is self-directed and self-guided, with teachers present only to guide and assist.
Waldorf – This approach postulates that ‘education of the head, heart and hands’ develops the child’s independent thinking, connection and contribution.
Reggio Emilia – This is the ‘100 languages of children’ approach centred on the belief that children have hundreds of ‘languages’ they can express themselves with. This includes verbal expression, movement, building, painting and so forth; The children set the tone of learning, which is play-based and mostly unstructured.
By knowing these and others, you can identify what approach best suits the way you want to foster your child’s development.
Frequently Asked Questions About Choosing Childcare
What should I look for during a facility visit?
When you visit a childcare facility, you’ll need to assess the kitchen and bathroom areas. We advise you to look for overall cleanliness and how user-friendly the places are for children. We also suggest observing the interactions between staff and children. Plus, you should pay attention to the facility’s setup – is it ‘busy’ and colourful, or are the colours muted, natural and minimalistic? Overall, how stimulating is the environment – quiet or noisy? Be guided by how you feel about the facility and how suitable the environment is for your child.
How do I know if a centre is a good fit for my child’s personality?
Approaches to childcare can be incredibly varied. Some children thrive on structure, whereas others fare best with self-directed learning. If you’re wondering how to choose childcare that fits your child’s personality, we suggest finding out the childcare centre’s curriculum. Is there more of a leaning towards structure or towards self-directed learning? Visit the centre and observe – is there plenty of stimulation, or is the environment quiet? Are there the types of toys and materials your child likes to engage with (and you are happy for them to play with)? What is the colour scheme: bright colours or natural, subdued colours?
There is no right or wrong answer to any of these – only a matter of matching the environment to what you want for your child.
What questions should I ask during an interview with a potential provider?
If you are interested in a particular facility, these are some of the questions to ask when choosing a kindergarten or childcare centre:
- How many children are under the care of an adult? Ideally, you would like the ratio to be 4:1 or fewer
- What is the facility’s policy on discipline and behaviour? Assess if this aligns with the way you like to bring up your child
- What is the centre’s curriculum?
- How do you obtain feedback on your child’s progress?
- What communications can you expect from the centre?
What are the pros and cons of different types of childcare options?
The main pros of using childcare centres include:
- Social opportunities (for both your child and you)
- Qualified staff
- Centres that must abide by strict safety standards
The cons of childcare centres can include:
- It is common for there to be waiting lists
- Children may get sick more often
- Staff turnover may be high, so healthy attachments are difficult for children to form
The main pros of using the services of an in-home nanny or babysitter include:
- More opportunities to control the child’s schedule
- Customised care
- No need to transport your child to a facility
The cons of care by a nanny include:
- The carer may have limited experience
- It is up to you to do all background checks
- There may not be a backup if the person is away sick
Why You Should Book A Tour With Woodlands Today
Spending a little time to research a childcare centre can give you peace of mind when the time comes to leave your child in care. It’s not just about knowing that your child is in safe hands but that you are comfortable with the centre staff’s approach to caring for your child.
The next step is to go and see it for yourself and meet the staff. If you live in or near Roxburgh Park, Sunbury, Truganina or Sunshine West and want to find out more about some of the best childcare in Melbourne, get in touch with Woodlands.
Woodlands staff are accredited, experienced childcare professionals who are proud to show you the beautiful facilities, share information and answer your questions.