I'm sure that just like every other parent, you believe your child will change the world. Perhaps you're right. Maybe your child will be the next Prime Minister, or save Humankind from extinction. But without the proper education, the possibilities of that are dwindling.
Early education is becoming a vital part of society as the acceptance of working mothers continues to grow. Choosing the appropriate centre for your child is becoming as important as selecting the best school for them, as it can determine their perception and outlook of the schooling system, and personal development.
Whilst most early education centres partake in the same activities and foundations, it is important to compare your options and decide on the best centre that suits you and your child's lifestyle.
There are multiple different types of early learning centres that are regulated under the National Quality Framework (NQF) including:
- Outside school hours care
- Family Day Care - In the educator's home
- Long Day Care - In an official early education centre
Regulations are put in place to ensure the safety of all children and educators however, there are other services that do not fall under this category like creche, babysitters, and school holiday programs. These other options may be more suited to type of care required for your lifestyle.
To select the appropriate centre for your child, the following questions should be asked:
- What hours do they operate?
- Is the centre conveniently located?
- What times can I drop off/collect my child?
- What qualifications does the staff have?
- Are meals, nappies, and other necessities provided?
- What is the staff to child ratio?
- What are the fees involved?
- Can I call or visit at any time?
- What aged children do they care for?
- What activities do the children partake in?
- Is the centre secure and gated?
- Will you be eligible for financial assistance?
Once these questions have been answered, its time to ask for your child's opinion. Would they rather the centre with the extra big playground, or the extensive supply of arts and crafts? Do they feel more comfortable at home, or at an official centre? Are there other children their age, or are they older or younger? Your child will be spending a lot of time in the care of others, so it is important to make sure they feel comfortable and supported.
Debrief with your child after each session, to allow yourself a proper understanding of the time your child spends without your care. Make sure the staff spends quality, individual time with your child to maximise their potential, and help them to understand the needs and wants of your child.
For families with children with additional needs, it is important the staff have qualifications and experience to care for your child. Well-trained staff will help them interact with children their own age to enhance their social skills, learning abilities, and development.
Early education can be an important aspect of your child';s growth and development. Being without your child can be a daunting experience, but once you and your child feel comfortable with the centre of your choice, you can both begin the journey of your child's education together.