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Four things that really matter when choosing a child care centre (and four that don’t)
By Sabrina Rogers-Anderson
I’ll never forget how confused I was the first time I tried to choose a child care centre. There was so much to think about and I didn’t know where to start! Now that I’ve been through the selection process for three different centres for my three kids, I’ve gained some invaluable insight into what matters and what doesn’t.
Here’s what I’ve found….
Four things that matter when choosing a child care centre
A caring customer service team
Choosing a child care centre is a huge decision for most parents and all we want is to feel understood and supported. When I called one early education provider’s customer service line, I spoke to a mum of three who was very caring and immediately made me felt comfortable. She assured me that she knew how difficult it was to choose a centre and she answered all my questions. She then suggested two centres that could be a good fit for my twins and booked in tours for me.
When I hung up the phone, I felt a huge wave of relief. I ended up choosing the centre she’d most highly recommended – she’d been right when she’d said my twins would fall in love with it the minute they walked in!
The Great Beginnings Customer Experience Team is available to answer your questions and help you choose the right centre for you. Call them today on 1800 314 517.
Friendships and socialisation
My eldest daughter had a hard time at one of her child care centres because she failed to establish strong friendships. She’s a social butterfly and she feels lost and insecure when she doesn’t have friends she can count on.
At her second centre (which my twins now attend), the educators and centre manager took her under their wing and helped her form social connections. They knew she loved arts and crafts, so they made sure a new activity was set up when she arrived in the morning and they encouraged a few like-minded children to take part in it with her. Before long, she had an artistic bestie!
The educators also did an amazing job of socialising the children by teaching them to share, take turns, use good manners and calmly express their needs. I was blown away by their capacity to teach my daughter to do things I’d failed to at home.
Experienced and caring educators
When I walked into my twins’ early learning centre for the first time and an educator greeted them by name and invited them to build a tower with her, I knew I’d found the right place. All the educators were so warm and caring that the girls didn’t want to leave when the tour was over!
“When doing a centre tour, look for educators down at children’s level, educators engaged with children during play, and educators being emotionally available to children when they are needing comfort or support,” says early childhood specialist Dr Melinda Miller.
Your “mum vibe”
You can make lists and compare websites for hours, but your “mum vibe” is what matters most. Book tours of your top three centres and you’ll know right away which one feels right for your family.
Four things that DON’T matter when choosing a child care centre
The full day fee
You won’t have to pay the full day fee thanks to the Australian Government’s Child Care Subsidy. You’re entitled to a different subsidy percentage depending on how much work-related activity you and your partner undertake, your total combined family income and the amount of child care you use. To find out more, call our Customer Experience Team on 1800 314 517.
I visited a centre that had expensive toys and early learning technology, but my girls didn’t even look at them. They ran straight for the sandpit and made mud cakes instead. Children don’t care about fancy resources – they just want to play and have fun.
Early reading and writing programs
Some centres offer early reading and writing programs aimed at preparing children for school. While I believe it’s important for children to be immersed in language-rich environments that include books, rhymes and songs, there’s no rush to make them sit down and learn in a formal way. In the early years, children learn best through play!
Don’t get me wrong – meals would’ve been a bonus if my twins’ centre had offered them. But strong social connections and caring educators were much more important to me than the convenience of meals.
We’re passionate about creating engaging learning experiences that enhance children’s development and foster a sense of belonging.
Our Family Support Team to experience where Great Beginnings happen – call 1800 314 517 today.