HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST CHILDCARE FACILITY FOR YOUR FAMILY?
Choosing the right childcare centre for your family can be one of the most daunting decisions you make as a parent. Entrusting the care of your baby, toddler or young child to somebody else is a big leap of faith and you’ll want to make sure you have total confidence in the centre you choose. But there are so many factors to consider when comparing centres, that making a decision can feel overwhelming. Follow these simple steps to find the centre that works best for your family.
While it’s easy to fall in love with the look and feel of a centre, before you even walk through the door you should make sure that the centre is compatible with your childcare requirements. Some of the things you can probably find out either online or over the phone before you even head out for an in-person inspection include:
Location - Check how long it is likely to take you to get from your house to the centre and then to work (or wherever you’re headed next) and back again. A centre that’s too far away will likely not work for your family, no matter how amazing it is.
Hours - Make sure the centre is operational at the hours you need care, allowing plenty of time for drop off and pick up outside your work hours. It’s also worth checking the number of weeks the centre is in operation, in the case lengthy holiday closures are likely to cause problems for your family. Heritage House Childcare & Early Learning Centres are open 7:30am - 6:00pm Monday to Friday, 51 weeks a year.
Extras - Check whether food and other extras are provided or not. If food is provided, check that the menu is compatible with your nutritional values and/or your child's specific nutritional needs (e.g. allergies, sensory preferences etc). At our centres, we provide nutritious meals and snacks created daily from our seasonal menu, by our talented in-house cook.
Cost - Of course, you’ll need to know the cost of sending your child to the centre to make sure it is within your budget. If you’re interested in enrolling at Heritage House Childcare, it’s best to contact us directly to ask about fees, but you can also read further about the cost of childcare on our website.
BOOK A TOUR
Once you’ve determined that a centre is compatible with your needs, the next step is to book a visit to check it out in person. Some of the things to take note of during the tour include:
Interactions - Probably the most important factor to take note of is how engaged and connected the educators are with the children. Educators should be focused on the children, getting down on their level to chat, cuddle, play and read. Look out for signs of positive attachment and warmth between educators and children like smiles, laughter and physical affection. Red flags include educators who are on their phones or who appear to be chatting amongst themselves for long periods rather than engaging with the children. At Heritage House, we believe that every child brings with them unique strengths, capabilities, culture, interests, knowledge, ideas and experiences. We encourage you to tour your local centre and meet the team who will be caring for and educating your child.
Cleanliness - A dirty centre is not only a safety issue, it’s also a sign of a centre where standards are low and policies aren’t in place or being respected by staff. Bathrooms/change areas and kitchens should be sparkling clean and the overall impression should be of a well-maintained, inviting environment.
Resources - This is where you may notice a big difference between centres. While every centre is likely to have a decent selection of toys and an outdoor play area, look out for special resources like a veggie garden, animals, sandpit, outdoor trikes and a quiet break-out area. Plus, ask educators about any extracurricular activities such as foreign language classes, yoga, sports or dance classes. At Heritage House, we operate a number of inclusive extra-curricular activities including The Heritage House Sports Club and The Heritage Dance Academy. We also have our own tried and tested preschool program which includes our very own Heritage House School Readiness Books.
Policies, philosophies and values - During your tour, it can be a good idea to talk through some of the centre’s policies, philosophies and guiding values. Ask about their policy around sickness (what symptoms prevent your child from attending, and for how long), their approach to sleep/nap time (can they adapt to your child’s sleep schedule and preferences e.g. rocking to sleep), feeding (when and how are milk/solid foods offered), discipline (what is the philosophy underpinning their approach and is this aligned with your own parenting values) and screen time (how are screens used, if at all).
ASK FOLLOW-UP QUESTIONS
A tour can be overwhelming with so much to take in and you might find you still have some unanswered questions when you get home. Feel free to speak to the centre again to ask any questions you may still have or voice any niggling worries - a good centre will be happy to put your mind at ease. Anyone who works with parents and children should understand that every parent wants the absolute best for their child, and every question or concern should be treated with the utmost respect. Our Heritage House Childcare & Early Learning Centre teams are led by understanding managers that will be happy to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
GO WITH YOUR GUT
Once you’ve done your research, completed a tour and asked any follow-up questions, there still may be more than one centre that ticks all your boxes. This is where parental instinct comes into play. In your heart of hearts, you probably have a gut feeling about which centre you prefer - listen to it. Trust that you know what’s best for your child and your decision will ultimately be the best one there is.