CHOOSING A CHILD CARE CENTRE
by Tash Hughes of
parents, choosing to put a child into care is a tough
one, others take it as expected, and many fit in between
the two. Once that decisions is made in favour of a
child care centre, how can you choose which centre to
in some areas there is little choice either because
there are few centres or because most centres are fully
booked. In this case, parents have to take what they
parents, the following points are worth considering when
choosing a centre. This list doesnít include every
possibility, but it is a starting point.
youíre not comfortable with the centre or the staff,
donít send your child there. You donít need to be able
to say exactly what the problem is, but trust your
your discomfort relates to a particular thing, it may be
worth a second look.
Of course, the
childís comfort level is important, but this is hard to
monitor as the child could be negative towards being
left, rather than towards the centre itself.
obviously, you need to look at the facilities of the
centre itself. Although itíd be surprising that DHS
would miss it, a centre without fences, dangerous
buildings, a filthy kitchen, unsecured entrances, no
fire extinguishers and broken windows would be better to
run away from quickly!
though, there are differences between different centres
that can help you make a decision.
childrenís areas bright and cheerful? Is there space to
run outside? Is the yard shaded enough to be Sunsmart in
summer? Can the children access some books and home
corner toys at all times? Are there extras like a
vegetable or herb garden or animals?
By looking at
more than one centre, you will begin to notice such
differences and judge which are more important to you.
centre offers a variety of activities over the course of
the day or session; young children want a choice, as
they donít have sufficiently long attention spans.
full time care, ensure that activities change from day
to day and week-to-week Ė as long as activities are
rotated around and new ones added, itís okay.
offer should include both indoor and outdoor venues and
use of different skills Ė two different painting
activities isnít as good as one painting table and one
puzzle table, for instance.
If your child
has particular interests, enquire if they are catered
The staff will
be caring for your child, so their attitudes are
Staff need to
not only like and respond well to children, they also
need to be happy with the centre and be communicative
Take your child
with you on inspections of centres and watch how staff
interact with him/her whilst youíre there Ė no matter
how busy, child care staff should still be able to smile
at and acknowledge the childís presence as a minimum.
displayed, the centre will have a program set up. It
will be divided into sections for different skill groups
(social, gross motor, etc) and have activities designed
to promote certain skills in the particular children in
Look at the
program as it will give a good indication of what they
do with the children and ensure all major developmental
areas are covered by their program each day/week.
centres are likely to have less detailed programs, as
they canít predict which children will be present and
may have a wider range of ages to cater for at once.
centres have various policies they must adhere to.
Policies include administrative things like accounts and
at this stage, are policies about discipline, bullying,
illness and safety procedures. Read these policies and
ensure that their contents suit your beliefs and your
decision is yours and has suit your child, talking to
parents who use (or consciously donít use) the centre
you are contemplating can be informative.
If you want
more reassurance and donít know other parents to ask,
talk to the administrator of the centre. Many will be
able to refer you to parents within the centre.
Is the centre
well organized, with forms ready to hand, notices on
boards, childrenís activities controlled, discipline
policies in place, and so forth? Or is it chaotic and
will probably be somewhere between, so itís a matter of
what areas are important to you. For instance, you want
the activities controlled but donít care if the office
is a mess OR you only care that the discipline procedure
is suitable to your child.
Tash Hughes is
the owner of Word Constructions and assists businesses
in preparing all written documentation and web site
content. Tash also writes parenting and business articles for
inclusion in newsletter and web sites.