Are you getting the best from your child care service?
Most mums and dads in Australia enrolling their child in child care find themselves considering lots of information when choosing a service, which can feel pretty overwhelming. Whether you’re returning to work or needing some time to yourself, rest assured that quality early childhood education provides amazing benefits for your child.
How do you know if your future child care service is meeting or exceeding your standards? How does it all work? How do you ensure your child has a positive experience at their child care?
As parents we all want the best for our children and to know they’re being supported by the people caring for them at their service.
So, we’ve got some tips to help you decide where to send your little one to child care.
StartingBlocks.gov.au is a website that was created by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA), which is the national body that oversees the implementation of the National Quality Framework (NQF) for childcare services all around Australia. You can access information about the developmental milestones of your child, find child care services, learn about the National Quality Standard (NQS) ratings, and resources to help your child through their early years.
Child care is much more than just fulfilling basic needs like feeding, napping, and keeping the kids busy. Child care educators and early childhood teachers educate young children through play-based learning, and aim to encourage development of their emotional, physical, language and cognitive skills.
When a child is young, before they even start school, their brains go through a series of developments which can help develop positive outcomes through their childhood and well into adulthood as well.
The Amazing Benefits of Child Care
It can be easy to think that there is nothing better for a little one than being with their immediate family, and I know I absolutely love spending time with them, however it’s important to remember that they also need the amazing benefits attending child care provides.
Child care will help your child learn routines & healthy habits
You’ll often notice that quality child care services are big on supporting structure & routines, and this is for a great reason! Children feel safe and secure when they have a consistent daily routine. It’s also a great way to introduce healthy hygiene habits like washing their hands or brushing their teeth. When your child knows what to expect for the day, it helps them feel calm.
Child care helps develop emotional resilience
With plenty of friends to play with, child care is a great environment to assist children develop their social skills, and learn what makes a good friend, how to share and how to wait to takes turns.
Develops their numeracy and literacy skills
As your child grows, child care is great for preparing your little one for school. Children can learn about literacy from listening to stories, looking at and creating pictures. They also can learn numeracy skills by play-based activities like singing, playing with different sized things and introduce counting.
Helping your child adjust to going to child care? Wondering how to best prepare?
There is no ideal time to place your child into child care, it is up to you, and what best suits your family.
However, if you are considering child care soon – here are a few tips on how to help your child prepare and adjust to child care.
Consistency in routines between home and child care can make a massive difference. When you initially enrol in child care, often you will be asked about your child’s routine. This is so the child care educators can help maintain consistencies to help support your child to the best of their ability.
Keeping these 5 different routines consistent at both home and at child care can benefit children:
- Sleep & Rest: Advising the child care service about your child’s sleep routine and any settling techniques will help keep your child calm and happy throughout the day.
- Behaviour: Explaining the boundaries you give your child at home will help the centre model those boundaries when appropriate, creating consistency.
- Toilet Training: Let your service know about your plan for toilet training including signs, and the centre can help make toilet training easier while your child is in their care.
- Hygiene: Child care services are required to adhere to strict hygiene guidelines and these hygiene habits are great for children to learn. Such as, washing their hands. You can easily continue these habits at home.
- Sun Safety: Child care educators often help establish top notch sun safety routines with your little one.
What child care options can you explore?
These four types of child care services are available across Australia:
- Long Day Care: This type of service usually goes for 8-10 hours a day, Monday – Friday. It can be for birth age to school age children.
- Family Day Care: Family Day Care are home-run child care services that provide care for small groups of children aged between birth to 12 years of age.
- Preschool / Kindergarten: This type of centre based care is mostly for children aged from three to five years old.
- Outside School Hours Care: This is before/after school care for school-aged children.
You can use StartingBlocks.gov.au’s Find Child Care tool to search for child care services to meet your family’s needs in your area.
A quality child care service will go out of its way to work with you. This is a super important aspect of child care. It has to be two-way communication between the educator and the parent. This ensures that the child is cared for, in the best possible way and it has great positive outcomes for the child and the family. A quality service will help create a positive learning environment and help develop independence and life skills.
This includes providing comfort when appropriate to children and helping them develop their social skills by making friends.
Information sharing, from the parent and from the child care provider is also something to consider. A great service will have a more open-door policy, where you are free to call whenever you would like to check-in, as well as offering regular updates on your child, their achievements and developments while attending child care.
When you pick up your child from child care, the child care service should be sharing with you any information that you should know immediately, such as sleep, meals, or toileting.
My Own Experience with Child care
I have always been a big advocate of quality child care. I have 4 kids, and for a considerable period of my life, I was a single mum. So, I have relied on child care to help provide support, when I have been working/studying but also when I’ve just needed a break. Some days, the child care educators were the only people I would interact with. They were always willing to help support me with any parental challenges I was having. I felt like the child care staff were part of my support network for my children, and I believe it has made a big difference.
After all, it takes a village, right?
The youngest child of our tribe, who is 2 now, has been going to child care since he was 6 weeks old. I connected really well with his educator; she was always so happy to see him! I would get photos and activity updates throughout the day. I would get happy smiles from my little man when I would pick him up, and often get told about how much he would eat all day, but he was happy, and we kept routines as consistent as we possibly could.