As any parent will tell you, finding a quality child care centre can be tricky. After all, there’s no list that clearly separates good centres from bad ones (although that would be great!).
Until such a list appears, you’ll need to find a quality child care the good old-fashioned way: by doing your research.
The key to researching for good options is knowing what features and characteristics to look for. That’s because a lot of child care centres not only look the same but also offer the same primary services. So if you know the characteristics and qualities of a good centre, you’ll be well ahead on your search already.
To help you out, we’ve compiled some of the things that you should look for when narrowing down your choices:
A Good Reputation
Word travels fast in the childcare industry, and even more so in today’s online world. The great thing about good childcare centres is that they’ll naturally make a name for themselves with their service. Whether it’s through online reviews or simple word-of-mouth, you’ll find that the best childcare centres have already built a good, solid reputation. Parents are also not shy about expressing their love – or disappointment – about different childcare centres, so a simple chat with fellow parents can help you find a good centre quickly.
Tip: Check online reviews, ask around from fellow parents, and talk to the parents you see in centre visits to confirm the impressions you’ve read or heard about a centre.
Happy and Engaged Children
This is perhaps the most obvious – yet often most often overlooked – sign of a quality child care.
If you see that the children at a centre are having fun and constantly learning, then chances are your child will have the same experience there. Fun and excitement are essential to young children’s learning and development, so you need to make sure that a centre offers plenty of these for your child.
Tip: Visit your prospective centre a couple of times and observe how the children there are feeling and reacting. Do the kids seem happy and excited? Or do they look bored or scared?
Carers Who Truly Care
Carers will be like your child’s second set of parents, so you need to make sure that they truly care for your child. In a perfect world, every carer is like this. But in reality, not every carer will be a good match for your child. When considering child care centres, make sure to evaluate its carers and staff. See to it that they treat every child with respect, kindness, and patience. You want carers who will care for your child as much as you do.
Tip: Take the time to get to know the carers in your centre during your initial visits. What are they like? Can you tell they genuinely care about the children under their care?
A Low Carer-to-Child Ratio
Proper childcare requires dedicated time and attention, making sure each child receives the care they need. In a childcare centre, the only way to do this effectively is to have each carer looking after just a few children. If carers look after too many children at one time, then not every child will get the care they deserve. When shopping around for a childcare centre, make sure that the carer-to-child ratio is low.
Tip: Remember that one-on-one care isn’t always the ideal setting for every child. Some kids learn and develop faster with together with other children. Learning in groups also helps them develop their social skills.
Clean (and Safe) Environment
Childcare will be your child’s second home, so you need to make sure it’s clean, safe and geared for their health and well-being. By clean, we don’t mean that it must be impeccably flawless. (Let’s face it: when young children involved, things are bound to get messy.) But it does need to be clean as far as health and sanitation are concerned. The centre should also have the right safety and security measures in place, including the proper safety barriers and childproof surroundings (ex. covered power points, blind cords out of reach, etc.)
Tip: Ask about the staff and carers about the centre’s safety features and their protocols when things go wrong.
Healthy Food and Snacks
Good eating habits should be developed at an early age. As their second home, your childcare centre should promote eating healthy food and snacks. If healthy food is part of your child’s learning program, they’ll find it easier to adopt a healthy lifestyle as they get older.
Tip: Ask you centre where they source their food and snacks. Some centres are more hands-on with their food choices, with on-site cooks to prepare healthy meals for the children.
Listen to Your Gut
One of your best tools for finding a quality child care centre is still something you’ve had all along: your intuition.
We’re all familiar with the amazing power of intuition – that feeling of knowing something even though you can’t explain it. If your gut tells you that a centre isn’t good for your child – no matter how good it may seem – then it’s best that you follow it.
Tip: Spend some time at different centres and observe what feelings you get from each one. Don’t neglect this impression and try to find out why you felt that way for each choice.
Remember What’s Best for Your Child
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that no matter how good a child care centre is, it simply won’t be the right choice if it doesn’t meet your child’s needs. Every child is different, so make sure that whatever centre you choose caters matches your child’s learning and development needs. It should also align with your family’s lifestyle and preferences, including your schedule, family budget, and resources.
Don’t forget to consider its location, too. Our McDowall childcare centre, for example, is centrally located and convenient for families in Aspley, Everton Hills, Everton Parl, Stafford, and Stafford Heights. The more accessible a centre is to your home or office, the easier it will be to drop off and pick up your child.
Want to learn more about finding the right centre for your child? Have a chat with our team to find out more.