October 16, 2021

5 Things I wish I’d known before my child started child care

 

Sponsored by StartingBlocks.gov.au

Deciding to enrol your child into child care is a big decision to make as a parent as the advantages and positives for your child are huge. Once you’ve made the decision to find the right child care service for your child we highly recommend you check out the StartingBlocks.gov.au website for lots of useful information including tips for getting your child prepared for their first day.

I wish I’d known the following before my child started child care.

1. Quality early learning encourages children’s learning and development
I didn’t fully understand how much of a positive impact quality child care would have for my children. They became more independent and thrived with all the different learning activities provided through their child care. Research shows that quality early education and care leads to better health, education and even employment outcomes later in life!

Child care services aren’t there to simply babysit your children. Quality early learning services contribute to a child’s life and learning in meaningful ways. The programs at the service are planned to encourage their physical, cognitive, emotional and language skills.

Even while taking care of your child at home, it’s important to give your child the opportunities to learn and develop every day. To track your child’s development and find activities to encourage their development, visit the website’s Your Child’s Development page.

2. You can learn ways to overcome separation anxiety
I remember how hard it felt for me to leave my 2 year old screaming and crying at drop off before I knew this. It may feel difficult for some parents to adjust to, but keeping to a consistent routine can have a huge impact on reducing children’s worries. This certainty and understanding that their parent/carer comes back after they’ve had fun playing and learning with their friends all day helps them settle. StartingBlocks.gov.au has some great tips on helping children settle into child care.

3.Child care services are given quality ratings by government regulatory authorities
I wish I knew this when I was organising child care for my kids years ago. Child care services across Australia are assessed and rated against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS):

  1. Educational program and practice
  2. Children’s health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative Partnerships with families and communities
  7. Governance and LeadershipThey are given a rating for each quality area (above) and an overall rating based on these results. I encourage you to consider all these ratings when choosing child care
  • Significant Improvement Required
  • Working Towards NQS
  • Meeting NQS
  • Exceeding NQS
  • Excellent

You can also use StartingBlocks.gov.au’s Find Child Care tool to find a child care service and see how they’re rated against the NQ. This online search tool would have been absolute GOLD when I was looking for a great place for my own kids. It makes it so easy to pop your address in and see how the various services measure up.

^^ Example from startingblocks.gov.au

4. Social skills are important

Child care offers children the opportunity to make friendships and learn how to behave with each other both in the playground and through active learning. My children are still close with some of their friends from child care. It’s also great to see the relationships between the educators and children and families. My kids both loved their educators and had so many great stories of things they did together during the day.

From what I’ve read on StartingBlocks.gov.au, developing positive relationships with children is the most powerful tool that educators have to guide children’s behaviour. The day-to-day interactions lay the foundations for developing children’s self-esteem, positive attitudes, values and behaviour patterns.

As a parent, it’s important for us to develop a shared understanding with educators about how our children’s behaviour is managed. It helps create consistency in the behaviour guidance strategies that are used at child care and what we can use at home, making our children’s learning and development more effective. For more tips, read StartingBlocks.gov.au resource on the topic.

5. Go easy on yourself and drop the Mum guilt
We all want what’s best for our children. Before I knew about the importance of quality early learning experiences for them, I remember I used to feel guilty dropping my kids off at child care if I wasn’t working that day. I’ve also learnt that sometimes having some ‘me time’ makes me a better parent. Catching up on the housework or going for a child free walk makes me a much happier Mum.

We hope the above information helps you and your family and we wish you all the best on your child care journey.

Jen & Lou x

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