Finding the RIGHT childcare centre or pre-school, 3 critical things to look for!

 Taesha Duley-Smith - Guest Author Thu 12 October 17


We know it so very well, the emotional wrench when the time comes to leave your child in the care of others... The tugging in your chest as you walk away...

Combine that with the challenge of finding childcare centres without year-long plus waiting lists!

So, here at Parents Guide Illawarra, we wanted to smooth the path of this potentially stressful parenting period...

We grilled an Early Childhood Expert to get to grips with the critical things to look for in childcare centre's - so when the time comes to drop your child off, you can walk away burden free - knowing you've made a great decision!

Taesha Duley-Smith has worked in early childhood education for 26 years and is Director of The Piper Centre, Wollongong.

We are delighted to share Taesha's wisdom far and wide... 3 critical things to look for so you can find the right child care options for your child:


1. Trust your gut feel

When you visit the centre - you will get a feel. Look out for how the staff are engaging with the children, Do the staff look like they want to be there? Are they affectionate and warm with the children? Do the children look happy and involved? 

A child care centre becomes like a second home for your child, they need to have a sense of belonging and feel secure there, so identifying that the children and carers/educators seem comfortable and they have rapport, is a great sign. 

Ask about the induction program and how the centre gets to know your beautifully unique child. Taesha shared how important it is for The Piper Centre to get to know each child on an individual basis, she loves discovering the knowledge and interests of each child.

These interests then direct the activities and programs that each child is offered across the year. This ensures that each child can develop a love of learning (that will serve them so well for life) as the learning is centred around what captures, holds and develops their knowledge and interests...


2. Ask about staff turnover

A centre that looks after and invests in their staff has lower staff turnover. Consistent staff who know your child, their likes, dislikes and beautiful quirks, makes all the difference to their experience.

Taesha shared that at The Piper Centre, she has worked with the same dedicated team of early childhood staff for almost 16 years and hasn't lost one member of staff! As the Director, she invests in her staff's development and wellbeing which has meant they developing their knowledge and skills, they feel empowered, appreciated and want to stay.

It is those dedicated staff that care for your little one day in, day out, so ask about staff development too! Zero turnover is certainly the exception and not the rule, but the lower the staff turnover, the easier it will be for your child to feel settled and cared for.


3.  How does the centre prepare your child effectively for Kindy and transition to school?

Taesha shared how fostering and inspiring a love of learning in every child whilst ensuring they are socially and emotionally ready for school, are more important factors than whether a child can write their own name or knows each letter. A play based learning model that encourages a child's natural curiosity and wonder is the norm at most centre's.

The Piper Centre invest in best practice by following the Reggio Emilia philosophy of child-directed learning (knowing that every child comes full of knowledge and ideas so their program of learning and activity is based on those interests  (this makes your child's learning more meaningful, fun and therefore successful!). 

This approach also celebrates the individuality of each child at the centre, so they feel a sense of belonging and develop of confidence both in their unique abilities and capacity to learn and grow... 

Taesha also shared how communication of the key indicators of whether a child is ready for school, should be happening between the centre staff and parents. For example, if a child has separation anxiety, how quickly do they settle, can they initiate or join in play, can they talk to their peers and educators, can they follow directions and how they are coping individually...


Want the list of questions to ask when you visit a child care centre!? Here are Taesha's recommended questions for when you visit any daycare, pre-school, family day care, or Preparatory School:

- What is staff turnover like

- How does the centre invest in the development and well-being of their staff

- How does the centre communicate with parents - how easily can you speak with the educators about how your child is doing?

- How will the centre support your child unique needs (eg need for naps, dietary requirements, any special requirements)

- What is the centre's accreditation rating (their National Quality Standard score)

- What are the key policies and guidelines in place

- This one may catch them off guard but ask it anyway! What words best describe your centre? Taesha's answer for The Piper Centre was 'warm, friendly, inviting, enchanting and stimulating'


So in summary, these 3 things will guide you to make a good decision for your child, trust your gut feeling, look for how the staff engage with the kids and ask about how the centre goes about preparing your child for school...

Taesha thinks she has the best job in the world! For her, seeing how each child develops a love a learning is endlessly fulfilling, as is working with a lovely team around her. For more information about The Piper Centre - click here! 

 Or click to watch this video...

With many thanks to the lovely Taesha Duley-Smith for sharing her many years of wisdom to help out us parents. To get on The Piper Centre waiting list (they take ages 3-5) or to ask about enrollment now, call (02) 4220 0251. 

We all want the best for our children and choosing the right childcare for when the time comes, is such an important decision. Here is to happy drop off's and a love of learning that will serve your child for the rest of their life! Please like and share this article so more parents can benefit... 

With our thanks to The Piper Centre for working in partnership with Parents Guide Illawarra and sponsoring this article :)



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