Going back to work after having a baby is a big decision, especially if you need to organise your newborn or toddler to go into daycare. Picking the right Early Learning Centre is crucial to putting your mind at ease, and allowing you to work more effectively.
So, how can you find the ultimate child care centre to look after your little bundle of joy? Here are our top tips and tricks to make a difficult decision more straightforward:
Check out what services are available in the areas in which you live and work. This will give you a broader scope of centres to look at and help you to find the perfect one for you.
Visit their websites to figure out what they offer and if that matches what you want. For example, do you want large outdoor areas for your child? Are you looking for a centre that has a great early learning program?
Also, ask your parent friends where they would recommend. Chances are your child will also feel at ease and thrive there - and you might be able to share pickups and drop-offs, too.
Plan a Visit
A visit to the centre can test whether it will be a good fit for both you and your child. Visiting will allow you to find out more about what a typical day will look like for your child. Plus, you’ll get to check the facilities and carers are up to your standards.
Questions to consider
Either while visiting or over the phone, there are some questions you may want to consider:
- What does the average day look like in the centre?
Put yourself in your child's shoes and see if the activities and the way educators set up their day will be a good match for your baby's needs.
- What is your child care philosophy?
Make sure your parenting philosophy/style is in line with that of the day care centre and its staff. The last thing you want when picking up your child after a long day of work is to find out that you don't like their policy on discipline or learning techniques.
- How big are the group sizes?
If your child is a social butterfly, larger group sizes may suit them perfectly. But, if they're a little younger, has special requirements or are shy, smaller group sizes may be a better fit.
One of the most significant factors is figuring out how much you can afford to spend. Sure, you may love the most expensive centre in your neighbourhood, but the reality may be it's just not economically feasible for you.
My advice is to set a budget at the outset and stick to it no matter what. You'll feel all the better for it in the long run.
Most importantly, this is about your child and what is best for them. Although you may prefer one centre over others, choosing the option that's best for your entire family will be the right decision for your child.