Another flash back blog post! I currently am lucky enough to be a stay at home mum and when I wrote this I was only dreaming of being pregnant with my now 7 month old little darling, Sterling! So read on, and hopefully you will read some tips that will help you with this major decision.
After working in the Early Childhood profession for 17 years I found it very easy to pick a long daycare centre for my son to attend. No, he doesn’t go to my centre, as a mum I need my own work place, where I can concentrate on being the best educator I can be. I needed a separation, a place I could be me, Carlea the adult.
So that said, what did I look for when selecting a place for my son to begin his education. When I say education, I don’t mean maths and science, although as he gets older it will include that, I mean his social education, his ability to feel safe away from me and his home and all that comes with learning to negotiate his world.
I knew I wanted a centre that was clean. That’s a given. Unfortunately not all centres are as clean as others. Some have funky smells, some have grubby walls and some have grubby bathrooms. So this was something I could easily identify.
I wanted a centre that had Educators who were as passionate as I am about young children and their education. That understood the Early Years Learning Framework, knew its importance and put its principles into practice. This is harder to see. I talked to the Service manager, I talked to the Educators, I looked at what was on the walls and how information was displayed, I looked at the room program and read the centre philosophy. I watched and noticed other educators around me and how they interacted with the children, and I looked at the children and thought about what I saw them doing. Were they all crying, were they busily exploring the area around them, were they engaged, feeling secure and happy?
Another thing to think about was the centre opening hours. Will the centre be open during the hours that I need care? Can I find a part time position for work that will allow me to be flexible with the times I can be at work. When I was looking for care I had a full time position to go back to, however it was a fair drive from where we live and I didn’t want to be far away from Roland, and I certainly didn’t want to work every day of the week.
Food was another decision to make. Did I want to pack his meals each day, or did I want a centre that provided meals. I decided I wanted a centre that provided meals, however I wanted to make sure they are providing nutritional meals, that the children get generous portions and that if they don’t like the meal they will be offered a substitute. I looked at the kitchen, I talked to the cook and I looked at the menus. Some centres have their meals delivered either fresh or frozen. This option is ok, depending on the company providing the meals and how the staff handle the food once it has arrived at the centre. Wether the meals are cooked at the service, or cooked off site, all food at the centre must be handled in a hygienic way and to a standard that meets food safety requirements set by the local council.
I thought about the vibe at the centre. Sounds strange, but how did I feel when I was there? Did I feel relaxed, or anxious? Did I get the feeling of being welcomed or did I feel like my visit was an inconvenience? How you feel in a place is important because your child picks up on this and if you are feeling anxious about the centre, how do you think they will feel when you walk out and leave them there? Not every centre is for everybody. Just as we are all individuals and we all parent in our own individual way, all centres are individual too. Yes, they all follow the same regulations and standards, they are all however very different, even within companies that have set policies for all their centres to follow. The educators within the centre set the culture of the centre and this translates into how you feel in that place.
So with all these points thought about, and after shopping around in my area, I found a fantastic centre that is full of passionate, inspiring educators, that I know will help Roland learn and grow away from his home. I’m always excited to pick him up and see what he has been up to for the day. Im always greeted by happy educators who fill me in on all the little details of his day, and I always see my son happy and engaged when I peek through the door.
I hope you are able to find the centre that is right for you and your little one, if you have any questions about what you are looking for or what you have seen feel free to contact me through my contact page and I will try my best to answer your questions!
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