Finding an early learning centre for your child is a big decision and it’s not uncommon for parents to feel anxious about making the right choice. Research shows the effect that the first five years have on a child’s future, therefore it is important to choose the right environment for your child to learn and thrive in when outside of the home.
While this can be daunting for parents and families, there are a few aspects to consider when finding a high-quality, early learning centre for your child. It is a good idea to start looking early and consider what days and times your family will require care for.
Building a positive relationship between educators and families will allow your child to be more comfortable within the learning environment. Relationships and trust are built over time; however, it is important to recognise positive and genuine interactions between your child and educators.
Young children learn best through play. High-quality early learning centres will have learning programs and curricula that are focused on play-based learning. While the curriculum is developed with a group of children in mind, it is important that early learning centres are also focused on the development of individual children who learn at different rates.
The early learning centre should feel welcoming and safe for children and families. While children play, they may create a mess however the centre should be well cared for overall.
Approved early learning centres across Australia are required to meet high national standards to ensure that children are safe and given opportunities to learn and develop. Services are given National Quality Standard (NQS) quality ratings to help families choose the best service for their child and family.
Services are rated against seven NQS quality areas:
Service does not meet one of the seven quality areas or a section of the legislation and there is a significant risk to the safety, health and wellbeing of children.
The regulatory authority will take immediate action.
Service provides a safe education and care program, but there are one or more areas identified for improvement.
Service meets the National Quality Standard.
Service provides quality education and care in all seven quality areas.
Service goes beyond the requirements of the National Quality Standard in at least four of the seven quality areas.
Service promotes exceptional education and care, demonstrates sector leadership, and is committed to continually improving.
Services rated Exceeding NQS in all seven quality areas may choose to apply to the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) for the Excellent rating.
The service has not yet been assessed
A centre’s rating may appear as provisional as services are generally allowed 6 months or so after approval before being assessed, and during this time they show this rating.
You can find services and information regarding their NQS rating here: https://www.startingblocks.gov.au/find-child-care
Each child and family are different and it’s important to find the right early learning centre that will best suit your child. Once you have gathered all the information you need, you will be ready to make your decision and take a big leap forward in starting your child’s education journey.