Whether you’re a parent for the first time or have been around the playground before, it’s never easy to leave your little ones in the care of someone else. Amongst the manic of parenthood, tornado of emotions and plethora of unclear information, there’s no greater anxiety. If only we could all have our very own Mrs Doubtfire, right?
Like most parents, a great proportion of time is spent identifying a good childcare centre that checks out. So even if your shortlist looks all shiny on the outside, it’s important to ensure the inside still ticks all the current and relevant criteria. To help parents make this all-important decision, we’ve sat down with childcare industry experts at Xplor to highlight the top ten drawcards to look for when choosing the right care for your child.
1. Not every childcare is right for your child
As a newcomer, you may not realise how many options are available. Begin your search by assessing your personal work-life schedule, the level of care and if early education is important. Many centres may say they tick all the right boxes but when it comes down to it, you and your child may be missing out without realising.
2. Is the childcare’s philosophy on par with yours?
A big concern parents have is leaving their child in a place that won’t nurture, love and care for them as they are at home. The experiences within the early stages of your child’s life are integral to their overall development, so ensuring your childcare centre implements the same behavioural management will make it the right fit.
3. Location! Location! Location!
Look, we get it. There may be a very impressive childcare provider on the other side of town but we hate to break it to you, travelling just don’t work. Convenience is a huge factor many parents leave on the backburner when it should be in their top five considerations. The key questions you need to ask yourself is, will your childcare centre be located close to work or nearby home?
4. Check their qualifications
What parents want from their childcare provider is an early educator, not a babysitter. Studies have shown over 80 per cent of your child’s brain development occurs during the first five years of their life. It is important to ensure you leave your child’s education in capable hands able to provide enriching and quality learning experiences.
5. Make sure your childcare centre is able to provide rebates
For most families, childcare represents a significant household cost. So to help parents tackle the fees, the government has recently introduced a new Child Care Subsidy. After registering for the scheme on mygov.com.au, parents should also double check their chosen childcare provider is up to date with the new system in order to receive their rebates.
6. Nappies, milk, lunch – oh my!
Children need stability and that includes having all their daily amenities with them, even outside the comforts of their home. Research and question each childcare centre to confirm the type of facilities available and the level of necessities provided. This includes essentials like nappies, lunches, and nap times.
7. Look for the right style of 1:1 communication
Having parent-teacher interviews may seem silly at such a young age but having an open relationship with your child’s carer is more essential than you think. Building an ongoing rapport with your childcare centre will give you peace of mind about how your child is going. Set the communication standard from the beginning, whether it’s via text, email or face to face. Another handy tool a childcare provider may have is the Xplor app, which can be used to provide real-time updates to parents.
8. Healthy Environments
For every parent, the health and wellbeing of their children is a priority. It can be all fun and games, dirt, paint and crayons, but you would still expect the facilities to be safe, sanitised and hygienic. In addition to keeping an eye on the cleanliness of the area, most centres have also implemented a requirement for vaccinations prior to enrolment. It is essential to do you research to ensure your ideal childcare measures up.
9. Compare the care
Don’t make a decision right away. Create a shortlist of providers and visit them as you would an open house. Take in the environment, test the waters and identify the unspoken elements of each location. Ensuring all the cards are on the table before making a decision will help you make an insightful choice.
10. Don’t be afraid of change
While consistency is important, it shouldn’t be the defining factor. Many parents fear removing their children from a routine. At the end of the day, your child comes first. If a current childcare provider isn’t meeting your child’s needs, making a switch could make all the difference. The end goal is a happy and healthy child and the best way to ensure that is providing an environment that is positive and supportive.