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Mum Central’s tips on choosing child care for your little one

When I was putting my daughter into care for the first time I remember Googling ALL the childcare facilities in the area. There were 77 different childcare centres within 10km of our house.

Sure, having so many options is great, but it’s also incredibly overwhelming. 77 childcare centres meant there was 76 opportunities for me to worry about whether I’d selected the right one.

How do we know we’ve selected the right one? Is there any way to know for sure?

There is, actually! It’s a government website called Starting Blocks and it’s something all parents need to know about. Even if your child is already in care, it’s worth the two minutes to check out how your childcare centre, kindy/preschool, even before/after school or vacation care program stacks up.

Start your little ones on the right path

Starting Blocks is a government initiative providing parents with information about early childhood education and care. Through the website, you can learn about your child’s developmental milestones, get a better understanding of the types of childcare available and help prepare your little one for this transition.

All of this information is invaluable, especially when starting the childcare journey.

We all know how early education and care shapes a child’s future, laying the foundation for healthy development. So, it’s important that your child gets an opportunity to learn and develop every day –even if they’re being taken care of at their home.

Starting Blocks provides information about activities you can do at home to encourage your child’s learning, and tracking your child’s development.

Compare childcare centres in a matter of minutes

But what we especially love about Starting Blocks is their Find Childcare feature which allows you to compare the different childcare services in your area to see if they meet the National Quality Standard (NQS).

So simple, so valuable for parents

Simply put in your location and the website will automatically bring up childcare services around you. You can then compare family day care services, long day care centres, preschools and kindergartens and even after school and vacation care – any early childhood education and care facility that is regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF).

Each service is rated against the seven NQS quality areas that include children’s health and safety, educational programs, staffing arrangements, relationships with children and more.  What’s great is these ratings come from the regulatory authorities so there’s no risk of bias or advertising influence.

All the assessed services are given an overall rating as outlined in the graphic above.

Give it a try now and see how your children’s care (or potential daycare) stacks up. 

Navigating childcare – a whole new world

Starting childcare is a big leap for both you and your little one, which is why we love this initiative from Starting Blocks. Knowing that your chosen childcare is meeting or exceeding the national standards can make those drop off soooooo much easier!

But, of course, there are a few other things to consider as  well.

Choosing the right service for your child

When visiting, ask the right questions – Not only about the basic things like hours of operation, fees, meal and nap times and lesson plans, but also the not-so-common questions:

  • How do you communicate with parents?
  • How do you deal with sickness? Poor behaviour? Bullying?
  • How often are the kids inside vs outside?
  • How are children’s individual interests included in the curriculum?

Pay attention to the little things – Cleanliness and safety are paramount, but also watch how the children are treated and how teachers engage with the children. Bring your child and see how they react too.

  • Are the kids free to roam inside and outside?
  • Are they engaging in activities that seem to be interesting to them?
  • Do they show a strong sense of belonging, comfort and confidence?
  • Are they encouraged to ask questions, to show independence?

Ask around – Recommendations from other parents can also help alleviate any concerns.

Trust your instinct – Easier said than done, we know! But we mums have to trust our mummy intuition when it comes to things like this.  Try not to overthink it all and go with your gut.

All of the above, when combined with a quality rating from Starting Blocks, can provide you with the assurance that, yes, you have made the right choice, even if you have 77 (or more!) childcare options to choose from.

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