Choosing the right Early Learning Centre for your little one can often feel emotional and overwhelming, but it requires careful decision-making. In addition to your preferences, expert advice you’ve sought out, and advice from your family and friends, you also have practical factors like cost and location to consider. How far is it from your home? How long the drive is? What does it cost per day and most importantly, how good is the centre and their educators?
So, how do you choose the right Early Learning Centre?
To help you make the best decision, as smoothly as possible, here are 10 questions to ask yourself to choose the right childcare centre.
Are you looking for all-inclusive child care, or are you prepared to make your child a packed lunch every day and to provide nappies and other required items every week? For example, Turtletot Bexley Childcare is all-inclusive childcare with the best of everything.
Are you looking for a centre with a particular affiliation or philosophy? Or a family-owned centre?
Decide on as many of your needs and your wants as possible before you start checking out centres to help you filter out the best options.
It’s important to know what the centre’s philosophy is and how it meets your child’s needs.
How does it provide direction and activities for your child to hit their developmental milestones (Boyd 2018)? How will your child develop their emotional, social, self-help, and physical skills?
How do educators interact with the children? Language development is important in early education and connected to longer-term academic success (Kate Torii & Fox 2017).
Do you want a centre that values and integrates outdoor play? Outdoor play provides opportunities for learning concepts in mathematics, science and language, as well as giving health benefits (Bento & Dias 2017) and helping children to value and enjoy nature. Childcare Centres like Turtletot base a lot of their education on the outdoor activity as they have one of the biggest activity areas in the Bexley vicinity.
For example, are you looking for a centre experienced in catering to your child’s dietary needs?
Most centres are happy to accommodate your specific needs. The best way to find out is to ask!
Do you need the centre to care for infants, or from toddlers upwards?
Do you want your child to stay at the same centre from nursery to pre-K, or do you not mind if they switch centres halfway?
If you’re looking at preschool, how does the centre prepare children for the transition to ‘big school’? Centres usually have preferred age groups as per the availability of educators.
Are you looking for a centre offering varying hours and days to accommodate your shift work? Or are standard hours and days suitable?
Do you want a centre based close to home, or closer to you or your partner’s workplace?
To find childcare centres in your chosen community, first, try searching online. For example, a search for “Childcare Bexley” or “Childcare near me.”
Alternatively, the Australian government has set up a helpful, dedicated search engine for childcare across the country here.
The standard of care and early childhood education received is essential for your little one.
What qualifications do educators hold (ACECQA 2020)?
How experienced are they?
How long has the centre been around?
How does the centre ensure its currency with the best early learning education research?
Being able to easily, clearly and effectively communicate with your chosen centre is crucial.
How easy is it to get in contact with the centre? Is their communication clear?
What methods of communication do they offer?
How do you want to communicate with the centre? Is that method of communication available?
Arrange for a visit to the centre. You’ll see the spaces where your child will be spending their day and meet the educators who will be interacting with your child. Some Childcare Centres like Turtletot have online ‘Book a tour’ feature to book tours online, it helps to make an informed decision.
How do you feel? Do you feel comfortable there? Will your child be comfortable there?
During your visit, ask all of your questions! Not only will you find out the answers, but you’ll also discover how willing the centre is to accommodate your concerns and requests.
The cost is crucial. Is the centre financially viable for your family? Does the price fit within your budget?
While cost is a significant factor, it’s important to keep quality in mind. Experiencing a high-quality early learning education can make a significant difference to children’s outcomes in childhood and later into adulthood (McDonald 2014).
Choosing the right Early Learning Centre for your family is important, but it doesn’t need to be overwhelming. Asking yourself these questions can help you to choose the right childcare option for your little one.