This week I had a conversation with someone close to me who is looking around to choose a childcare centre for her daughter. She told me that she was considering centres close to her mother’s home, since it would be up to her (the grandmother) to pick up the child while my friend was still at work. After her first visit she was pretty confused about whether she should have asked more or different questions. We discussed a number of aspects together, which would make sense to take into consideration when deciding:
- The locality of the Centre and operating hours.
When one takes into consideration that many parents work, finding a childcare centre which is close to where they work or live is important so as not to add further stressors due to traffic and time commitments. In addition to this, many people may have varied work shifts and schedules, and thus taking into consideration the amount of time required for a child’s stay is very important.
- The physical space.
Operating childcare centres need to follow standards established by the DQSE (Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education) and the physical setting needs to abide by these. With regards to safety and health matters, including the establishment of child-carer ratios, is a basic starting point common to all centres. However, one may note the diverse learning opportunities provided to children by the specific resources available and also by the way the internal and external areas are set up.
- The Daily Program.
This varies according to the centre and the specific age group of the child. However, all childcare centres need to provide “activities and opportunities for play [that] are organised so as to meet the full range of children’s developmental needs. The early years environment should provide holistic care and education, by addressing the range of children’s developmental needs (i.e. their physical, intellectual and language needs, emotional and social needs). A more “holistic” approach implies that children’s overall development will benefit from having a range of experiences rather than specifically concentrating on one aspect.”
- Philosophy and Centre values.
When a childcare centre has values, which are similar to their service user’s values, there will be a greater opportunity for respect and collaboration. Child carers who take into consideration the child’s environment, personal attitudes and parental involvement, are often rewarded with “better teaching effectiveness, fewer conflicts with families, and a school environment that fosters respect, support, and greater learning outcomes” (Beining, 2011).
Thus, parents can get a feel of this organisational attitude by paying a visit and meeting with the carers from beforehand, they can also get an idea of what the centre’s values are by going through the Policies and Procedures provided by the centre.
- The staff members and the way they relate with the children.
“Teachers may serve as parent surrogates in their daily interaction with children. Teachers are frequently placed in caregiving roles and are responsible for listening to children’s concerns and easing upset feelings” (Hughes, 2014)
This quote shows the importance of the interaction and relationship of the child carer with the child as they are very important individuals in the child’s life. When parents can rest assured that their child is being cared for and loved by the carer, they can put their mind at rest that their child is happy and learning will take place, since there is already a strong foundation of love and encouragement.
- Taking into account feedback and recommendations from previous service users.
Needless to say, that personal experiences are the most true and useful testimonials to a service. Once a service is recommended not just by someone close to you, but also by outsiders, giving details and specific knowledge and experiences, then this adds detail and perspective to any other information being provided.
Beining, K. H. 2011. Family-Teacher Partnerships: An Early Childhood Contract for Success.
Journal of Childhood Education (2011), Annual Theme, p361-363.
Hughes, K., Bullock A. And Coplan, R. J. 2014. A person-centred analysis of teacher–child relationships in early childhood. British Journal of Educational Psychology (2014), 84, 253–267.
National Standards for Child Day Care Facilities, 2006.
Abigail Church is a Humanistic Integrative Counsellor who works with adults and children through counselling with Willingness. She can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 79291817.