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'We need to be honest about what childcare really is.'

Only About Children
Thanks to our brand partner, Only About Children

As a mum, the conversation around childcare enters your life with a sense of urgency: How do I know which childcare centre to choose? How do I know where to start?

And there's so much you don't know.

When the time came and we decided to send our son to childcare, we agonised over every detail. We researched dozens of centres across Sydney like detectives and asked every parent we met how they chose which childcare centre they would send their kids to. 

As first-time parents, we were not sure what to expect. Would the kids just be playing with toys all day? Would the younger kids and older kids all be following the same programme? Would the kids be eating whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted? Were the educators fresh out of study or did they have many years of experience? 

What we learnt

We quickly learnt that childcare centres - and the people who work within them - are so much more than you realise before it's part of your day-to-day life. At their best, childcare becomes a continuation of your own family and community environment, with the centre's facilities and programs designed to build on these foundations.

That's definitely been our experience with Only About Children. My son's childcare educators come from a variety of backgrounds, with years of education and experience, all of which contributes to creating a dynamic environment where he can thrive. 

Sending your child off to childcare for the very first time can be a huge milestone in a child's life, and equally as huge for their parents or caregivers (trust me, I know, I cried solidly for two hours after the first drop off). But slowly as each day passed and after more drop offs, I found it a little bit easier, and eventually I realised my son was happy and it was time for me to let go (a little bit).

What we were looking for

When we first started our research, we had three key things we were looking for:

1. The reputation of the centre and qualifications of the educators.

2. The centre's facilities and programs – as well as their approach to health and wellness. Very important these days!

3. The location of the centre in relation to home and work.

Our initial research was quite overwhelming, but with the knowledge that Australian childcare standards are amongst some of the highest in the world, we were in fact spoilt for choice. We soon discovered Only About Children and quickly realised just how exceptional their early learning programs are. Only About Children goes beyond learning to encompass the overall health and wellbeing of the child through nutrition programs, seasonal menus cooked by in-house chefs, allied health teams, active programs, sustainability, and more. It also offers age-based learning environments to encourage every child to reach their full potential in life

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It's so much more than I had imagined when I thought about childcare. 

Much more than 'babysitting'

We're not talking about babysitting, or supervision. In 2021, places like Only About Children know that they're working with children during one of the most formative parts of their lives. 

Therefore, Only About Children enables a holistic approach and believes that for a child to thrive, all elements of his or her education, health and wellbeing must be considered. 

Over the last decade, Only About Children has grown its unique offering, working with an array of early childhood, health and nutrition specialists to ensure all children who attend a centre have access to exceptional allied health professionals including in-house occupational therapists, speech pathologists and dietitians.

Educators work closely with the in-house team of allied health providers to observe each child’s individual development. According to Only About Children's Head of Health, Anna McCauley, "If a parent has a concern about their child or any part of their child’s development, no matter how big or small, the Only About Children in-house team of allied health professionals can work with the parents, children, and educators in a convenient and timely manner to address these concerns and to help develop strategies that are effective and realistic for everyday life.”

As a mum who was wanting to send my son to childcare part time, I was looking for consistency in curriculum across the week. Only About Children offers an embedded curriculum which runs through the whole week. With this in place, children who attend five days per week, or those who attend part time, receive a consistent programme of education, which was very reassuring.

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Whilst doing my research, I was specifically looking for a centre which could offer a service that will see our son through until he is ready to head to school, so it was reassuring to see that Only About Children offers a tailored approach to school readiness. Of course, school readiness is much more than reading, writing or counting, and for us, we felt our son's social, emotional and physical wellbeing needed to be nurtured to get him ready for school. We've had such a positive experience with this at Only About Children, and have also noticed their dedication to ensuring school-age children are in the best position to build friendships and confidence. 

Dealing with COVID-19

In recent times, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed daily life, and yet child development has not paused, and supporting children and families is as important now as ever. Only About Children has introduced new strategies to minimise the risks of infection whilst continuing to provide the highest level of quality education and care. This includes all Only About Children families continuing to have access to all in-house allied health services via tele and video conferences, where face-to-face meetings are not possible.

As we are spending much more time at home with our children, I am always looking for new and meaningful ways to engage with my boys. According to McCauley, "allied health professionals and educators have been able to recommend activities to help children spend less time on electronic devices by including more messy play time outside and sensory play time which can involve the whole family whilst stimulating creativity and continued learning".

What childcare really is

Every day, my son continues to grow, develop, and embrace childcare, and I take great comfort in knowing that he is surrounded by the best team of educators and staff that fundamentally have his best interests at heart.

It's more than I ever could have hoped for, and that's why we need to be honest about what childcare really is. Highly professional, highly specialised, and highly tailored to children's individual needs. 

In the coming months, my second son will begin childcare. I know that this time around, making the decision as to which centre to send him to will be easier. And who knows, maybe this time I'll only cry in the car for one hour after that first drop off.

Only About Children
Only About Children is More Than Childcare. Our holistic approach to early learning, health & nutrition is specifically designed to encourage every child to reach their full potential. We offer dedicated facilities and programs for Nursery, Toddler and Preschool/Kindergarten children and everything your child needs is inclusive within our daily fee. Call 138 622 or visit oac.edu.au to book a tour at your local campus.
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