By Jae Fraser
Putting your little one in the hands of someone else is a big deal. Choosing the right childcare provider is one of the most important decisions you will make. There are many elements which go into making this decision. Sometimes, it can feel a bit overwhelming! That’s why we’ve put together a list of all the questions you need to ask. Take this list with you as you tour your local childcare centres. It’s a surefire way of making sure you choose the right place for your child.
The general policies of a childcare provider are a great place to start. These policies are what will determine the day-to-day life of the centre. Policies are only the surface of a childcare centre, but they can help paint a general picture. Here are some questions to ask, as soon as you walk in the door:
- What are the costs? (Make sure you get a figure per day, after your government rebates have been taken into account.)
- What are your operating hours? Is there a fee for late-pick ups?
- Can I come and observe or participate in the activities?
- What is the teacher to child ratio?
- What happens if we need to miss a day of daycare?
- What happens if my child becomes unwell at daycare?
- How to you manage behavioural issues?
- How will I know what’s going on? (I want to be kept informed as to what activities my child has done, what they’ve eaten and how long they slept for.)
As a parent, safety is a primary concern. It should be for childcare centres too. It can feel a bit pushy to ask these hard-hitting questions but your child’s safety is too important to risk. Start with these questions to see if the centre is up to scratch:
- How are employees screened?
- Are all your staff up to date with their infant and child CPR and First Aid?
- Are your staff trained in regards to SIDS?
- What certifications and training do you educators have? Where do you source them from?
- How long have your educators worked here for?
- For security, does the front door require an entry code? How often is it changed?
- What is the policy if I need someone other than my spouse to do the pick-up?
Childcare centres need to have high standards on basic routines such as sleeping and toileting. Be sure to check out the facilities yourself to make sure they are clean and well maintained. Here are some great questions to ask:
- Can I see the nappy change facilities and toilets?
- What is the cleaning procedure for these areas?
THE FUN STUFF!
Remember that an early education centre should do just that – educate! Childcare centres these days should be held to high standards to education and development. You want your child to be benefitting from every moment spent in the centre. In order to suss out where the provider sits on these issues, here are some basic questions to ask:
- What kind of activities would my child participate in? What activities do you use to stimulate physical, emotional and social development? (Extra points if music and foreign language are taught!).
- Do you follow a particular program or curriculum?
- How are children grouped? By age or developmental stage?
- What toys do you have and how often are they sanitised?
- What emphasis do you place on reading? Can I see your library?
FOOD AND NUTRITION
The last thing you need is to pick up a hungry child from daycare. Even worse, a badly fed child! Nutrition and feeding routines should be at the top of your list of questions for any potential childcare provider:
- Does the centre provide meals or should I send meals with my child?
- Do you follow an endorsed Nutrition Australia menu?
- Do you provide infant formula? Can I bring expressed breast milk?
- What is the routine for feeding babies? Are they held? Can I come in to nurse at any time?
- Are nappies and wipes provided?
- How do you manage potty training and inevitable accidents?
- Do children have their own cribs or cots?
- Do I need to provide linen?
Choosing a childcare centre doesn’t have to be scary, with a list of good questions up your sleeve. Be sure to take a thorough tour of each facility and take photos so you can contrast and compare. Don’t ignore your gut feeling – you may find somewhere that ticks all your boxes but just doesn’t feel right, trust yourself and your knowledge of your child. Most of all, don’t rush it. Take your time to shop around until you find the ideal place for your child to be loved and nurtured during this critical time in their life.
Little Scholars School of Early Learning believes in making a difference. Our family owned and operated boutique centres offer quality care at affordable rates, with skilled educators and premium facilities to meet the needs of every Little Scholar. Your child’s emotional, social, academic and physical development is our number one focus. We nurture them, teach them and guide them to develop all the skills that will allow them to succeed in life.