Daycare, childcare centres, toddlers, learning, development

When the time comes to send your little ones off to daycare, you want to be sure you’re making the experience a happy one, for them and you.  Those first few years of life are important for children as their physical, cognitive, emotional and social development evolves.  Finding a centre where your children can thrive, feel happy and safe is crucial as well as somewhere that you are comfortable with.

Once you have made a list of the centres that you’re interested in visiting, remember these important questions to ask yourself to help you come to the ultimate decision.

Does the centre have a reputable name or any complaints against it?  Word of mouth is a great way of finding out what people really think.  Don’t believe everything you hear though – ensure you do your own research to find out for yourself.  Search the internet for any reviews, positive or negative.

Does the centre look safe?  It’s imperative that daycare centres adhere to strict health and safety guidelines to ensure the safety of the children at all times.  Ask plenty of questions when you visit such as when were the smoke alarms last tested?  Are the electrical sockets covered?  Do they have an evacuation plan and how often do they practice?  Is there adequate security to protect the children from strangers?

Are the staff friendly and welcoming?  Your children need to feel comfortable turning to their teachers in times of need otherwise it could be an awful experience for a young child who is left feeling alone and forgotten.  A centre that has staff who can connect and build relationships with children is extremely important.

Do they have records of what children do all day?  Some parents like to know how much their children have eaten, if they had a sleep and how many nappy changes they’ve had each day.  Ensure the centre keep these records up to date and ask to see some examples.

Is the centre tidy?  Keeping a daycare centre clean can be a hard task during the day when the children are busy having fun making a mess but at the end of each day they should be cleaned to a minimum standard.  If you visit a centre early in the morning check the cleanliness.  The rubbish bins should be empty, the dining areas and bathrooms should be clean and the floors should have been vacuumed.

Is there adequate shade in the outdoor play areas?  The sun in Australia can be unforgiving at times and although most centres now insist on children wearing hats and sunscreen whilst outside, playing in the shade is equally important.

Does the centre offer a nutritious menu and easy access to drinking water?  Ensure that the menus offer a variety of foods such as fruit, vegetables, bread, dairy and meat.  Water should also be available and accessible at all times for the children to drink.

If all else fails and you’ve asked yourself all of the questions above but are still having a hard time coming to a decision, the last resort is normally going on your instinct.  When you visit the centres you’ll get a feeling about whether a centre has a good vibe or not and if it feels right for your child.  Trust your instincts.

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By Karyn Miller