Thank you to Ashley Hollier and Courtney Formo, certified ECE’s and owners of Forever Learning Childcare, for providing tips and advice on the importance of early learning and childcare.
Editors note: Though the opinions and information in this post are those of a qualified professional, the post is not intended to substitute/replace direct consultation with a qualified advisor or industry professional about your unique scenario.
Is it time to go back to work? Just starting your childcare search? Are you overwhelmed? It can be very overwhelming finding suitable care within your budget and in the right location. So where and how should you get started? Here’s what we recommend.
1. Think about what you want.
What type of care are you looking for? What does quality early education mean to you? Have you ever thought about the importance of an Early Education? Some key terms you will encounter will be philosophy (the beliefs in how the program is run), play-based learning (our favorite type of learning!), Montessori, Waldorf, Reggio, ECE, I/T, LNR… and lots more. Don’t understand something? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and Google is a very helpful tool!
2. Do your research – and start EARLY!
Now that you’ve narrowed down the kind of care you are looking for, start looking. There are lots of amazing childcare centers around Victoria but there are also very limited childcare spaces. Start looking sooner rather than later. The search for care is sometimes stressful, daunting and difficult but hang in there. Are you looking for infant/toddler care? We are just going to tell you now most centers will be full so if you wait too long you may be stuck compromising more than you would have wanted to. Don’t give up looking for a great place though, your child’s early education is very important to their development. Having trouble locating daycare centers? The Child Care Resource and Referral (Google CCRR) provides families with a list of registered childcare spaces with phone numbers. Also reach out to local mom and childcare groups. Call around. Find potentially available spaces. Check those spaces out and meet the educators. You are looking for a school for your young child so remember its okay to be choosy! Here are a few resources that may be helpful in your search.
3. The importance of visiting different centers
Once you start visiting different centers you’ll have a better understanding of what you are looking for, willing to compromise on, and the differences in quality care. We recommend going prepared. Bring along questions (you can find great question lists online), bring your child if possible and take notes. Some things to look for when visiting: is the center calm, clean and free of clutter? Do the educators appear friendly, passionate and knowledgeable? Are there a range of materials set out for the children? Are you creeped out or uncomfortable? Is there enough space? What do their days look like? What are the rates and hours? It is best to look around at as many places as you can to really get a feel of the differences in programs.
4. Deciding if it’s a good fit
Now that you’ve visited a variety of centers do you feel like you would be sending your child to a place where they can grow and thrive while being safe and cared for? It is not only a transition for children but for families as well and having the peace of mind knowing your child is in good hands makes the transition much easier on you both. More important than location and price is the feeling you get when it “just feels right.” As parents and guardians you want the best for your children. We know a lot of the time location and price can be a deciding factor but we ask that you don’t skimp on the quality of care just to save a few bucks or drive a little less.
So now that you’ve done all that we hope you’ve found a place where your child will be encouraged to learn, socialize, play, thrive and be themselves. A place where they will be nurtured and inspired by educators who are passionate and eager to spend the day with your children. We wish you the best of luck!