The most important thing to remember is that every child is different and develops at their own pace. However, it can be useful to look at the information available about children’s development here, to get a better understanding of all the things to look for as your child grows.
If you are concerned, have a chat to staff at your child’s service about what is worrying you. They may monitor your child and use their professional judgment to discuss your child’s progress and help you decide whether your child requires further assessment, assistance, support or a visit to a medical practitioner.
Opportunities to connect with other children and service staff can benefit children’s early learning and development. Your child will not be negatively affected if he or she builds strong attachments with staff at the service and is being well cared for, while also socialising and learning.
Choosing the right service for you and your child is important as it will make you more comfortable about leaving your child knowing they are in good hands. Remember that children can develop strong attachments with more than one adult but this doesn’t mean the strong attachments you have formed with your child will change.
A source of information about the benefits of quality early childhood settings and the importance of the early years is the ‘Engaging Families in the Early Childhood Development Strategy’.
This varies for every child. Some children adapt easily to different environments and new situations, while others will always prefer to be at home. There is no set amount of time that a child should or shouldn’t be away from their parents. As long as you make time to simply ‘be’ with your child, play with them and spend quality time with them, you will keep the strong attachment and bond formed with your child from birth.
The opportunity to socialise is one of the reasons why families choose to send their child to child care, but it’s not usually the only reason. There are a number of ways your child can socialise with other children and adults. You might find a parents group in your area that regularly meets for social activities for both the children and parents. This is a great way for you and your child to make new friends.
Visit playgrounds in your local area to give your child time to run around and be active with other children. Use trips to the shops or running errands to involve your child. You can also organise regular educational outings to art galleries, museums, theatres, sporting events and cultural festivals. These places often run programs specifically for children. For more ideas on activities to do with your child click here.
There are lots of things you can do to support your child’s development and ensure they have the best outcomes e.g.
Click here for some information on how working in partnership with families works to benefit children.
Your child will join a program based on the standards and practice in the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) or other approved learning frameworks. The EYLF aims to extend and enrich children’s learning from birth to five years and through the transition to school. All services regulated under the National Quality Framework are required to have programs for children based on the approved learning frameworks. The programs are based on learning through play, not formal and structured learning.
Generally indoor and outdoor play areas give children the chance to play and explore with toys, in sand pits, on climbing equipment and in water play areas. Activities appropriate for their age and their interests, such as arts and crafts, cooking, dramatic play, dance, excursions, games, music, reading and story time, and sports will be offered.
For more information on the EYLF, programs and practices click here.
Research shows that staff with higher qualifications are more successful in helping to improve and support children’s learning. Staff with qualifications and a strong understanding of children’s developmental and learning needs are much more prepared and able to provide a high quality care and learning environment for babies.
Research shows there is a link between the impact of high quality early education and care and positive outcomes, even for the very youngest children in early child care services. Recent research has found that high quality early education and care for children aged birth to three years can reduce the likelihood of behavioural problems and help develop skills for later learning. Children aged birth to two years learn and develop quickly, and these early experiences literally shape the brain and establish either a sturdy or a fragile foundation for all of the development and behaviour that follows. That’s why good quality service staff are very important in any child care service catering for babies. Check out our Resources section for links to research on early brain development.
Click here for an overview on staff qualifications.
Every service is required to have a medical conditions policy that sets out practices for managing conditions like asthma, diabetes or anaphylaxis. If your child has a medical condition, the service is required to provide you with a copy of this policy.
The policy will set out how medical conditions are managed and how staff and volunteers are informed about managing medical conditions. Parents will need to provide the service with a medical management plan for their child that can be followed if an incident relating to the child’s medical condition arises. The plan will need to be checked and brought up to date every year.
The service will work with you to develop a plan to minimise any known risks. All services are also required to have staff trained in first aid, asthma management and anaphylaxis to deal with medical emergencies.
Each service’s policy should include information about handling medication, who you will need to give it to and what forms need to be filled out, and instructions on how to give it to your child. It is always important to check when sending medication to the service that it is the medication prescribed for your child and it hasn’t expired.
The more information you can give the service the better they will be able to work with your child’s condition.
Some children can experience separation anxiety when transitioning through the various stages of early childhood education and care, whether that’s starting child care for the very first time, moving into a new room with new staff at a centre or starting preschool/kindergarten. This type of change can be an emotional and stressful time for both you and your child. It is important to remember that a lot of children will go through this and while it can be distressing at first, it will ease over time once your child has become comfortable and familiar with their new environment and service staff.
Many services will be open to ‘getting to know us’ visits when a child is beginning at the service or moving to a new room. These involve short visits to the service, alongside a parent or familiar staff member, to allow the child to slowly become familiar with the new environment.
Developing a regular arrival routine can also help with separation anxiety. One option is to stay for the same amount of time with your child each morning (whether it be a quick drop off or maybe reading a story together). This will ensure the arrival routine is predictable for the child and you both know what to expect. Be prepared for tears, as your child might cry when you leave, but remember that they never last for very long.
Many services welcome phone calls from parents throughout the day to see how their child has settled in. This provides reassurance that your child is ok. In many cases your child will be doing well and enjoying their day. Some services will create an individual plan for each child, to make sure parents and staff agree on the best ways to help them settle into the service.
For other useful strategies and suggestions for parents click here.
It is the service’s responsibility to let families know if their child is sick or injured while at the service. In some cases, they will also need to notify a state or territory regulator. This includes if a child has a serious injury, trauma or illness which would require urgent medical attention, including the need for emergency services or going to hospital.
Read the child care service’s policies in detail to find out in what circumstances they will contact you if your child starts to appear unwell or has an accident.
It is important to keep your contact details at the service up to date should the need arise to contact you urgently or in an emergency. This also applies to other emergency contacts that you may have in case the service cannot reach you.
Services do all they can to prevent illnesses and the spread of infections, but from time to time, children will get sick. Sometimes parents will be asked to keep their child at home to stop the spread of infectious diseases.
The National Health and Medical Research Council publication Staying healthy – Preventing infectious diseases in early childhood education and care services has a list of the recommended amounts of time you will need to keep your child at home when they’re sick to help services and families work together to reduce the risk of illnesses spreading further.
Partnerships with families are an important part of education and care services. During enrolment, most services ask families for information about their child including family beliefs, values and backgrounds. It is important to talk with your service’s staff about your family values and explore ways to work together to support your child.
For more information on the importance of family involvement click here.
It’s important to be open with staff at your child’s service about your family’s cultural and social values, including sharing information and discussing ways to ensure your child’s and family’s culture and values are respected.
Click here for further information on what you and staff at the service can do to support children with culturally diverse backgrounds.
You can also find some good information on parenting partnerships in culturally diverse services click here.
The Australian Government funds the Inclusion and Professional Support Program to help services provide early education and care for all children, including those with ongoing high support needs, in eligible child care and early learning settings. This program aims to remove barriers and give children with additional needs the support and resources they need to ensure they get the most out of their child care service.
The program includes support for children from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, refugee or humanitarian background and Indigenous children.
It is important to understand if you are eligible for financial assistance. You may be able to get the Child Care Benefit or Child Care Rebate. Click here for more information and here to see what rebates are available.