Choosing the right childcare centre for your family and knowing the signs of a good childcare centre can be difficult. Reading this article will help illuminate some of the must-ask questions when touring a service, as well as some top tips of what to look out for.
What type of needs does your child have?
The priority is making sure the centre is right for your child. To know this, it is first important for you to consider who your child is. Do they find comfort in smaller spaces, or like to run free outdoors? Do they find larger groups overwhelming, so would benefit from a small-groupings approach? Considering your specific child is a great start on you finding the right childcare.
A top tip is to be open and honest with the childcare service. Discuss your child and ask the Centre Director how they think your child will fit into the environment. If your child needs support in particular areas, such as speech development, or would benefit from more structured boundaries to encourage positive behaviours, share this information. This will not only provide you with answers on how your child will specifically be cared for, but also give you an insight into the approach the service takes to open-communication and knowledge-sharing.
Here at The Green Elephant, we don’t see tours as an opportunity to sell you something. We truly see them as a moment to help families like you decide whether we are the most suitable environment for your child. So, consider if there are any adaptations that your child may specifically require, such as physical access, medical support or dietary requirements, and ask how these will be supported.
What type of philosophy does the childcare have?
Probably the biggest worry for all families when choosing childcare… how do I know that what they say they will deliver is truly reflective of the experience for my child and family?
Well, here are some top tips on how to identify the signs of a good childcare centre when touring…
- Environment – do the play spaces reflect children’s interests and provide varied opportunities for play-based learning to take place?
- Engagement – are the children engaged in activity, with educators actively supporting their play and learning?
- Empathy – do educators act as advocates for children’s rights, communicating with them in a way that respects them as capable and competent learners (no matter how young they are)?
- Early learning – is there a clear understanding of young children’s learning & development that underpins the foundation of the childcare curriculum?
Does this align with your philosophy?
Next, take a moment to consider if these beliefs align with your own. Some childcare centres may take a structured approach to the daily program, whereas others may promote minimal adult intervention. Childcare is not a one-size-fits-all kind of industry, so think about what is important to you & your child, and if the service is reflective of this.
The Green Elephant philosophy
We at The Green Elephant are a home-away-from-home, a family-centric space that advocates for your child’s rights to play, learn, grow, thrive, be safe and (most of all) … have fun!
Read more about The Green Elephant philosophy here.
Location of childcare centre – should we be close to work or home?
Considering whether to choose a childcare centre closer to work or home is definitely an important factor in finding the right service for you and your family.
Some more top tips to help you are:
- do a test run… practice the journey from location to location to see what the genuine experience is like, allowing for anomalies such as cancelled public transport, or traffic at peak hours of the day
- parent participation… will your timings allow you to build an open partnership with your child’s educators, or will you have to drop and dash?
- emergency contacts… would being closer to home mean that you have a trusted someone just around the corner to collect your child should your meeting at work run late?
- local community… which location would provide you with more access to convenient amenities so you could collect your shopping on the way home, or allow you contact with other families who are local to the area?
Each family will have different priorities and considerations when picking a childcare centre… so try not to get too caught up in what other people do. You know your family and you will know what works best for your situation once you have weighed up all options.
Size of childcare centre
Childcare centres come in all shapes and sizes, from cosy cottage conversions to luscious acreage and, even though capacity of the service may be important to consider, it perhaps is more important to consider room capacity for your child.
What would suit your child
A 100-space service may in fact provide smaller, more comforting spaces than a 30-space service that has just the one room. Again, it is all about considering your child and how you think they will respond in different environments. Also, consider the growing needs of your child. If you are enrolling them at 10-months-old, spend some time thinking what their experience at 3-years-old will look like, too.
What is the curriculum?
The curriculum available in the childcare service is a direct reflection of their philosophy. Here in NSW, all childcare services have national frameworks that forms the basis of the program of learning. However, as with any framework, interpretations of these will differ from service to service.
The Green Elephant curriculum
We at The Green Elephant promote an unhurried approach to the curriculum, giving children time, space and support to explore at their own pace. Play-based experiences that stem from children’s knowledge, interests and individuality form the basis of everything that we do, with supportive educators scaffolding children’s development. Read more about our curriculum here (internal links).
Providing your child with nutritious food isn’t simply about the menu provided, it is also the environment created to encourage life-long healthy eating habits for your child. Edible gardens and cooking experiences contribute to children becoming effective eaters and are also important things for you to ask about on your tours.
Healthy eating at The Green Elephant
Check out our sample menu and read more about our approach to nourishing young tummies.
Where is The Green Elephant…
Having read the above, are you now considering daycare for your child and family? Well, come along and meet one of our team on a tour of our Beaconsfield, Horsley Park, Rosebery or Waterloo services. We will chat to you about your child’s needs, what you can expect from the enrolment and orientation process, as well as give you some advice in tackling those nerves you will undoubtedly be feeling.
We look forward to welcoming you to The Green Elephant family.