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25 questions you should ask the daycare centre before you enrol your child.

Making the decision to enrol your little one in daycare is a big step and every parent wants their child to put their best foot forward. If you’re like most parents, you’ll be eager to take the grand tour of local daycare centres as you nervously assume your pseudo-Goldilocks role.

This one feels too chaotic.

This one feels too sterile.

And this one feels just right… I think…

Essentially, when choosing childcare we go with our gut. We use our intuition to sense whether an early childhood centre is the best fit for our kiddo. But with intuition comes second-guessing and with second-guessing comes anxiety. In the end, it’s mostly a game of hit or miss and if it’s a miss, the daycare auditions continue.

However, what if there was a list of questions you could ask to eliminate this uncertainty? The following twenty-five questions will put your mind at ease, give your audition process a more strategic structure and help you find your dream childcare.

Spotlight on: General childcare policies.

1. What are your operating hours? Is there a fee for late pick-ups?

2. How much does your centre cost per day? (Remember to ask about the gap fee after your government rebates and eligible hours.)

3. Do you have an open door policy for parents who might like to pop in and participate in activities?

4. What is the teacher to child ratio?

5. What happens if we need to miss a day of daycare due to illness or vacation?

6. What happens if my child becomes unwell at daycare? Who is authorised to administer medication? (If your child has allergies, make sure to ask how they will manage them.)

7. How do you manage behavioural issues like biting, hitting and bullying?

8. What processes do you have for keeping parents in the loop? Do you use an app or a website to keep parents informed about what activities their child has participated in, what food they ate, how long they slept, etc?

Spotlight on: Safety and training.

9. How are employees screened? Are all childcare staff trained in infant and child CPR and First Aid? Are they trained with regards to SIDS? What other certifications and training do your educators have?

10. How long have your educators worked for the centre? (There will always be some staff turnover but keep an ear out for long term employees – they’re a good indicator of positive culture.)

11. For security, does the front door require an entry code? How often is it changed?

12. What is the policy if I need someone other than my spouse to do the pick-up?

Spotlight on: Fun and learning.

13. On any given day, what types of activities would my child get to participate in?

14. Do you follow a particular program or curriculum? (Ask to see it, if possible.)

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15. Are children grouped by age or developmental stage?

16. Do you have a wide range of toys to maintain a stimulating environment? How often do you sanitise them? (Make sure to observe the quality and condition of the toys.)

17. What emphasis do you place on reading? Where do you keep your books? (Observe whether there is a wide variety of books.)

We need to talk about the daycare centre in Canberra that will look after your kids, feed them kale and quinoa and send you off with a coffee in hand.

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Spotlight on: Nutrition and feeding routines.

18. Does the centre provide meals or should I send our child with snacks and lunches?

19. If meals are provided, do you follow an endorsed and approved Nutrition Australia menu?

20. Do you also provide infant formula? Can I bring in expressed breast milk?

21. What is the routine with feeding babies? Where are they fed? Are they held? Can I come in to nurse at any time?

Spotlight on: Sleeping and toilet routines.

22. Would I be able to see the nappy change facilities? What is the cleaning procedure for change tables? (Does the room smell? Does it look clean?)

23. Are nappies and wipes provided by the centre?

24. How do you handle potty training and the inevitable accidents?

25. Do children have their own cribs or cots? Do I need to provide sheets and blankets?

Now that you’re armed with this checklist of hard-hitting investigative questions, you now have more than just your gut to help you get a sense of each daycare centre you audition. Having said that, if you find a centre that ticks all of the boxes but something tells you it just isn’t right, don’t ignore that.

Shop around until you are confident that you’ve found the perfect place to nurture your little one and help them to thrive.

Have you had experience ‘shopping around’ for family daycare options? What questions were on your checklist? Tell us in a comment.

Jae Fraser is the Managing Director of My Little Scholars, for more information about their centres you can find more information on their website here.

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