For parents who can't necessarily afford to take time off work to spend or look after the kids, early learning centres come as a lifesaver. But they're also instrumental in the development of your little ones, and their ability to learn about the world around them.
These days, there's many types of centres and facilities open to parents looking to enrol their little ones. From the education offered through to the services they include, how do you know which one is best for your child?
Understanding the different types of early childhood education
Across Australia, the most common types of regulated services in this field include:
- Family daycare
- After-school care
These sit under the National Quality Framework and are monitored by the government for compliance. Ultimately, this means the regulations are in place to ensure your little one is safe at all times and in the care of those who are able to support their learning opportunities.
Note: There are also some non-regulated options that exist, which might include mobile services or some specific school programs. Whilst they don't reside in the NQF, they may still be regulated under legislation from your specific state.
How to choose which service to go with
Kids often get excited for new opportunities like those offered at preschool or kindergarten but it can also sometimes be overwhelming for them. To make the transition easier, we always recommend preparing for the change in advance, not all of a sudden.
For example, think about the following details:
- Number of hours: How many hours a day will your child need these services?
- What service suits your lifestyle best? Do you need long hours of care because you have a 9 to 5 job, or just after-school care to fill the gap? Assess your time management and day-to-day schedule.
- Waiting list: Some facilities and centres have a waiting list so it pays to ask whether you're up for a long one or not.
- Your first visit: No matter what kind of centre you have in mind, always plan an initial visit to suss out the environment and ask all of the questions you have in mind. The only way to really understand the kind of atmosphere your child will be dabbling in is to see it and experience it for yourself.
Questions to ask your chosen centre
Once you are ready to visit the location, come armed with a few questions:
- What are their hours like?
- What are the drop off and pick up times?
- Can you visit or call your child at any time in the day?
- What do you need to provide as a parent? E.g. nappies; food, etc.
- How many staff are there?
- What qualifications do the staff have?
- What are the age ranges cared for in the centre?
- What are the internal procedures and policies?
- Are there any financial assistance options available?
If you're ready to ask our staff these questions, get in touch with Mitchell Street ELC now on (03) 5245 7670,