Finding Childcare is one of the biggest decisions that you need to make as a parent. We live in a society where most parents of young children need to work, and finding a nurturing, loving environment for our children to go to where they are safe, loved and supported can be a difficult choice.

Childcare is not only place where children are cared for, but also educated. Keep in mind that good quality care encourages a child’s natural inclination to learn through play and follows a child’s interests.

Firstly, you need to determine what kind of care you are looking for. Long Day Care, Family Day Care, Community Kindergartens, Creche, Nanny’s and Au-Pairs are all options that are available in our area. Determine the hours and flexibility of each option. Long Day Care is great for typical working hours, Family Day Care often extends hours for shift work, Community Kindergartens usually fall in with school hours and school terms.

Go with your gut – When you walk into a service, what is the general feeling you get from the place? Does it feel warm, welcoming and inclusive? Will they reflect your parenting practices? Ask them about their centre philosophy, the credentials of staff and their accreditation status. What hours do they offer? Do they have government subsidies? Could you see your child spending the next few years growing and learning here?

It will become a second home for your child. Make sure it feels like one.

Staff interactions – Connection is the most important aspect of any early childhood setting. If a child does not form a quality connection with a loving and supportive adult, they will not feel secure enough to learn and play. Observe how educators interact with children; are they respectful, loving and kind?

Communication- How do educators communicate the child’s day with parents? How do you know what they have eaten, what they’ve done during the day, how they slept? Most services use private family sharing apps to share information. Also, engage with educators, although busy, they are usually more than willing to share aspects about your child’s day.

Learning – Young children learn through play. In the service is there a range of developmentally appropriate learning opportunities available for the children? Are the children engaged, happy and busy? Ask about the curriculum and how they share this and the children’s learning with parents.

Care Practices – Nappy changes, mealtimes, sleep and rest. How does the service incorporate essential care practices into their daily routine? How do they make sure that nurturing routines follow the children’s needs while being supportive and warm?

Be prepared for;

A settling in period. Saying goodbye to a much-loved parent is tough on a small child. Be prepared for tears and a gradual transition period. Visiting the centre a few times before your child starts, shorter days, establishing positive routines around attending childcare and seeking support from the service are all instrumental in helping a child to settle.

Childcare fatigue. A childcare service is a busy place for children, and for some of our gentler souls it can be overwhelming. Children will often come home exhausted and GRUMPY. A quick dinner and off to bed are my go-to when a child has kindy overwhelm.

Clinginess. Your child may not let you out of their sight for the first few weeks of transitioning into care. Be prepared for a lot of cuddles and connection with your child.

A childcare service can be a wonderful place for your child to learn, establish relationships and engage in some amazing experiences! With the support of wonderful Early Childhood Teachers and Educators your child can develop and thrive in their new childcare setting.