Research shows that experiences in childhood matter a lot. Human beings learn and change throughout life, and their early experiences form the basis for development, learning and wellbeing.
The family is the most important influence on a child, and if they attend an education and care service, the experiences and relationships that happen there are also important.
The characteristics of quality outside school hours (OSHC) care revolve around:
In a quality service, great importance is placed on the relationships between children and educators, and there should be many warm, friendly interactions between them, in which adults show respect for children. The educators work in partnership with families and the school to get to know the child in the context of their family, and the wider school community. There should be effective and ongoing exchanges of information between educators, families and, the child’s school, about their needs, routines and experiences.
In a quality service, these practices are most important:
In a quality OSHC setting, children’s experiences should provide them with many opportunities to play and explore, and recognise that these are wonderful ways for children to learn and develop.
The following are particularly important:
In a quality service, the planned activities are based on each child’s interests, needs and abilities. Quality practice happens when educators make flexible plans and prepare for positive relationships and children’s experiences.
Resources are a key aspect of an OSHC environment, and there should be a variety of play and learning materials, equipment and resources, indoor and outdoor, for children to use in many ways. The materials should encourage children to explore, think and solve problems, as well as support children’s creativity and stimulate their curiosity.
The service should be rich in language and print. For example, children should be able to access different types of literature such as books and magazines.
OSHC services sometimes operate out of spaces that they share with others, (such as school halls or classrooms) meaning that they may have limited access to space for storage. They may be required to set up and pack away the entire space that they use at the end of each session.
In a quality service:
Maintaining children’s health and keeping them safe is every service’s fundamental responsibility.
Children in service settings are more likely to come into contact with contagious illnesses than at home. The service should have a thorough understanding of best practice in health and safety and written policies that reflect and support this best practice.
A quality service should:
To decide whether a service will be suitable for your child, you should consider visiting the service at least once, to spend some time in the children’s environment and to talk with the educators at the service about the children’s program and routines.
Many OSHC services will hold an orientation session as part of the school orientation, and this can help your child to settle into the environment more easily.
You can use our search tool to find an OSHC service and its quality rating, fees, vacancies and inclusions.