A tour is a great way to get to know a childcare centre. You see the facility and the educators in action, you can ask as many questions as you like and sneak a peek at the children going about their day. However, this picturesque scene can take a twist when you’re bombarded by early education jargon that you don’t understand!
Early learning and preschool are a new and foreign world to most parents, so if you’ve ever left a tour rattled and confused then rest assured that you are not alone.
In most circumstances you only walk through a centre once before enrolling your child and so it’s crucial you ask the right questions to get the most out of your visit. Read on to learn what you really need to ask to find out if this centre is right for you.
While all childcare services in Australia follow the Early Years Learning Framework, their approaches and practices vary between centres. Finding a philosophy that aligns with your own values is crucial to helping your child thrive. When children interact with the same underpinning values in multiple environments they are more likely to embrace these as they grow.
Question the research behind the education model.
Some childcare theories were founded when we believed the sun revolved around the earth and haven’t changed since then. Take the time to find out how their approach suits today’s generation and how it will set your child up for the future.
Enquire about what other services use this approach.
Philosophies are generally unique and subjective to the service. Personalised education models are an indicator that the organisation has taken the time to cultivate its own values and ideals rather than using a “cookie-cutter” version to appease prospective families.
See how the children learn.
Look for children who are happy, engaged and excited in the service. When children are given the opportunity to be hands-on, they associate school with fun and develop strong dispositions for learning.
Ask about the plans to improve the quality of education.
We live in a constantly changing world so it begs to reason we would continue to evolve as well. Find out what plans the service has in order to continue to grow and be better for its families and staff.
A typical day
Ask to see the routine for your child’s age group.
Anxiety comes from the fear of the unknown. Children who have predictable routines in childcare are more likely to experience smooth transitions between home and school. Look out for consistency in their days and be wary to ask how your home routine is reflected while your child is in care.
Find the educational benefits in the day.
Children benefit from a balance of intentional and organic teaching moments. There are educational opportunities in every aspect of your child’s day – from collecting their shoes to packing away their toys. Parents can ask how each part of the routine is crafted to benefit the children’s learning.
Extra-curricular programs can provide a more holistic learning experience for children.
Programs such as music, sports or drama encourage children to develop new interests that extend beyond their hours within care. Some centres charge extra if they outsource to external vendors, so don’t forget to ask about the costs involved.
Pay attention to the play spaces in each room.
Play environments encourage children to learn by interacting with the space so therefore it is important they are set up with purpose. Asking the educators why they chose to set up a play area will give you a great insight into how they cater for the children in their care.
Hygiene and cleanliness are key.
To keep your little one healthy ask about how they minimise the risk of infection within the service.
Your educators will set the tone for your children every single day they are in care.
Don’t forget to find out a little bit more about the people who will be teaching your child. Asking about their qualifications and their previous experience will give you a better understanding of how their room will run.
Do the teachers continue to learn?
It can be hard to instil a love of learning if you don’t have it yourself. Children should be surrounded by people who want to learn and grow so then they will want the same for themselves.
If you’re looking for a childcare and preschool to tick all these boxes, then register for a MindChamps tour today.