This post is brought to you by Starting Blocks.
Learning begins from the minute your child is born.
Research shows children who experience quality early childhood education and care in their first five years of life have improved brain function and health outcomes, as well as better education outcomes later in life.
This is why it’s important that they’re given the opportunity to learn and develop every day, at home and at child care services.
At home: there are lots of activities you can do to encourage your child’s learning and development. You can find a list of activities on StartingBlocks.gov.au, a free government website – your first step into early childhood education and care.
At child care: you can find out more about quality early childhood education and care and find services on StartingBlocks.gov.au and its Find Child Care tool. Child care services across Australia are required to meet high national standards to ensure your child is safe and is given opportunities for learning and development on a regular basis.
How do you know if a child care service is high quality?
The National Quality Framework (NQF) sets a high National Quality Standard (NQS) to encourage early learning services to continue to improve their programs and practices.
Early childhood education and care services across Australia are assessed and rated by the state and territory regulatory authorities against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS).
All approved services are given one of these quality ratings: Significant Improvement Required, Working Towards NQS, Meeting NQS, Exceeding NQS or Excellent.
To learn more about these quality areas, and how they impact your child and quality of education and care, read StartingBlocks.gov.au’s factsheet on understanding the NQS for early childhood education and care services.
All services approved to operated under the NQF are committed to continuous quality improvement, and you can ask to see their Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) to see how they’re striving to achieve and improve quality.
Finding the right Child Care Service
StartingBlocks.gov.au’s Find Child Care tool can help you find quality early learning services near you, along with their NQS quality ratings.
Once you’ve shortlisted your favourites, arranging a visit and asking the following questions can help determine the quality of the service and whether it’s likely to be the right fit for your child:
- Do we feel welcome within the service?
- Are the educators taking time to communicate and answering my questions?
- Are the educators engaging with other children in a warm manner?
- Is the service safe, clean and hygienic?
- How will the educators let me know what happens during my child’s day?
- What are the fees? Will I be charged for public holidays or when my child isn’t there?
The StartingBlocks.gov.au website has tip sheets on what you should look for when you visit a service and questions to ask.
A smooth transition
Starting child care is a big milestone for children and their families.
Simple activities at home can help make the transition to child care a smooth one:
- Routines: Waking up, eating breakfast and getting dressed at a similar time each morning helps your child settle into the routine you’ll use when they start child care.
- Self-help skills: Practicing using the toilet independently and washing hands, and using tissues to blow their nose.
- Practice spending time apart: Organising for your child to spend time with relatives or a babysitter to establish your routine for saying goodbye.
Taking the time to find the right child care for your child can help you give them the best start in life.