The thought of choosing the right childcare for your child can be confusing and overwhelming. It is a big thing to be able to trust other people to look after your child when you aren’t there to do it yourself. So, it is not a decision to be taken lightly. Let’s explore how you can make the best decision for your family.
The thing that makes the task of choosing childcare so daunting is the sheer amount of choice that is available. Unlike school where the decision is often made for you with zoning and location, childcare options stretch on in front of you.
Centre Based Care: Your child goes to a daycare, preschool or kindergarten facility
Home Based Care: You take your child to an educator and that educator cares for your child in their own home
Nanny or Au Pair Services: You employ someone to look after your child in your own home. Each of these options have their own benefits and suit different family situations.
Childcare Centres are certainly a popular option. They are so popular that there is often more than one to choose from in each town.
• Qualified caregivers with excellent knowledge of children and first aid skills
• Amazing education programmes and a wide range of experiences for children
• Lots of educational resources and toys
• Always open during their agreed hours
• Lots of social interaction with a range of children
• Must find a centre that suits your location and the hours required
• Group care as opposed to one-on-one attention
• Can have expensive fees
• Your child is more likely to get sick as they are exposed to more bugs
• Your child cannot attend if they are sick
As we have already mentioned, you are likely to have a number of options if you choose to put your child in a Centre for care. You need to choose the Centre that fits with your values and that you will be comfortable leaving your child at. Here are some things that might help you make that decision.
• What is the feeling when you walk in? Is it warm and inviting, are the teachers friendly, are the facilities well kept?
• How are the children behaving? Are the active children being stimulated, is the sad child being comforted, or are they all creating chaos with no visible order. Your first visit to a Centre will seem very loud and busy, but take note of the small details as that will help you see under the surface of the children at play.
• How are the teachers interacting with the children, each other and you? Are they warm and welcoming, engaged with the children and enjoying their time there? A Centre is only as good as its teachers, no matter how fancy the facilities.
• Top Tip: Arrive unannounced to have a look around, don’t go at mealtimes when the teachers are at their busiest supervising children. Take your child along for a visit and see how they react to the Centre.
You may be surprised by the number of people that care for children in their own home. Some are mothers of young children, some are grandmothers, and others just love kids.
• A more homely and relaxed feel
• Great transition for younger children who are not yet ready for the busyness of a Centre
• Your child may still be able to attend when they are unwell
• Some socialisation with other children
• More chance for one-on-one attention
• Can potentially be more flexible on hours of attendance
• Usually there is only one adult present, make sure you trust their skills and abilities
• You may need to provide replacement care if your carer is sick
• Less range of educational resources and toys than a Centre
• May have a less structured day than at a Centre
You will need to have an excellent relationship with your carer and trust them completely with your child. They will be the primary caregiver for your child while you aren’t there. Make sure they have similar parenting philosophies and methods of discipline as your own household.
Probably the least common of all childcare options, but in no way less valid. Inviting a Nanny or an Au Pair into your home is a big decision and commitment.
• You don’t have to travel to drop your child off to a Centre or another home
• Flexibility of hours
• The care is in the familiar setting of your own home
• They may do the housework also
• Care for older school aged siblings too
• One-on-one care and attention
• Less social interaction with other children
• Finding the right fit for your family
• Generally the most expensive childcare option
• You may need to find cover at short notice if your nanny is unwell
Trust is paramount when selecting a Nanny or Au Pair. You not only have to trust them with your child, but with your home. They will need to be respectful and align with your family values.
Finding the right childcare option for your family depends on your individual situation. Consider your child’s age, your financial circumstances, times that the care is needed, if you need part time or full time care, distance to travel, and the needs of the rest of the family.
When choosing childcare, trust your instincts, do your research and don’t rush into a decision. All children are different, and each will flourish in a different environment. And if the option you chose is not working out, don’t be afraid to try another option.