Top 10 Tips for Choosing a Childcare for Your Child
We all know that childcare is important for lots of different reasons. We know that being ready and confident when starting school has a lifelong impact on education and learning. Not to mention social skills and creativity. We all know the right childcare centre can be a hugely beneficial and supportive experience for you and your family.
So, how do we choose? What do we look for? How do we best make this really big decision?
1) Safety. First and foremost, how safe is the childcare centre?
2) Convenience. Do you want a childcare centre close to your home or place of work? There are benefits to both so consider this carefully.
3) Relationship. What are the people like? Did you get a warm feeling when you met them? Don’t discount mother’s and father’s intuition. You need to feel comfortable too, and having someone you trust and can talk to is vital.
4) Cost and Benefits. Childcare centres vary in what they cost and offer. In New Zealand every childcare receives government funding but this only covers a very basic level of care and environment. A centre that is free or has very low fees might suit your budget but you probably won’t get nappies or food included
5) Programme. Every centre has their own programme. What is the underlying philosophy of the centre and is it something you agree with?
6) Food. What your child eats makes a huge difference to their day. Does the centre offer food? Is it fresh and made on site? Does the centre promote healthy eating?
7) Communication. Does the centre have a newsletter? Do they have online portfolios so you can access and share (with grandparents etc) learning stories? Is there a private Facebook group to get photo and activity updates? Is there someone you can call who always answers the phone and allows you to talk to a teacher in the same room as your child?
8) Playground. All centres have different philosophies on playground layout and equipment. Safety is a priority. Is there plenty of shade? Does each age and stage have their own exclusive space so that they can explore and play without risk?
9) Parking. Never underestimate the value of parking. Does the centre have dedicated car parks or will you have to fight for one?
10) Teachers. While it goes without saying that teachers should be qualified and experienced, are you looking for anything extra? Does your child speak a second language that you would like supported?
Take your time. Don’t leave it until the week before you are due back at work.
Take your baby and see if they enjoy the visit or gravitate towards any of the teachers or areas of play.
Visit more than one so you have a comparison. Take someone with you as a second pair of eyes.
Don’t rush the visit. Ask lots of questions and observe the teachers and children.
Most of all, trust your instinct!!