Choosing the right childcare centre for your child is no easy task. Especially if you have to place your name on a waitlist when your child is just weeks old, or you’re still pregnant.
You can ask questions of your friends who’ve been there already, but you get so many different answers. I certainly felt that way. Going with just your gut feeling, or someone else’s recommendation isn’t enough when it comes to something as big as this. So how do you make an informed decision?
For starters, you should have the National Quality Standard (NQS) on your radar, which are quality measures every childcare centre must adhere to. These are things like offering play-based learning, maintaining standards of all indoor and outdoor environments, and making conscious and cooperative efforts around inclusivity. When a centre has a high rating with these standards, you know it’s of high quality.
One example is KU Children’s Services, one of the largest not-for-profit providers of early childhood education in Australia with more than 140 centres across New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria and Queensland. Their centres meet or exceed 99 percent of these standards, which offers great peace of mind for parents.
Of course, it’s not just about the ‘official’ standards, as us fussy parents know. There other factors to keep in mind too.
Here’s what I’ve found to be super important in making that big decision about your child’s care at a place like KU:
1. How they foster a sense of community.
When you have your first child, you’re thrust into a world you know very little about. It’s a new community, one that you’ve only ever glimpsed from the outside — a world of planning around naps, bento lunch boxes, and Peppa Pig. And from all accounts, the connections you make when your children are young may well last a lifetime. Childcare and preschool can be where children make their first independent friends, and begin to establish their expanded networks of belonging.
A good childcare centre will make a family feel a sense of belonging as soon as they arrive through the front door. At KU, parent participation is encouraged through shared story times, afternoon teas and excursions. The staff believe these strong partnerships help children to develop confidence and trust in their surroundings. I’ve found that by attending events at my son’s childcare centre, it has not only helped me connect with the staff but strengthened his relationships with them too. It’s important to me that we all feel welcome.
2. The role of industry experience.
Early childhood education and care is a fast-growing industry. And it’s great to have new fresh and bright-looking centres opening across the country in response to demand.
You’ll want to know if the centre you choose has experienced and well-qualified staff on board. KU Children’s Services is the most experienced childcare provider in the country, employing qualified, caring and highly skilled teachers and educators to provide this high-quality early education.
We can trust a brand that has been around for a long time, because like with tying shoelaces or riding a bike, practice makes perfect.
3. The centre’s core values.
Early childhood education is a significant investment for your family to make, of time, money and your child’s development. When you look at it like that, why wouldn’t you choose a centre whose values align with yours?
KU promotes the important values of childhood, leadership, innovation, diversity and inclusion, relationships and integrity, and sustainability. As an example of walking the talk about diversity and inclusion, KU has an Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) designed to “ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, their cultures and histories are appreciated and reflected throughout KU, as we continue to strengthen our commitment to practices of reconciliation”, according to CEO Christine Legg.