Perhaps the most white-knuckled ride of them all is sending your little darlings to day care. Regardless of whether you’re returning to work, or just need a weekly sanity saving day, there’s nothing more terrifying than that moment your heart literally leaps out of your chest and totters across the playground.
Fortunately there is a day care option to suit every situation. But regardless of whether it’s a traditional centre, home day care or an in-home nanny, there are a few crucial things to consider when choosing a carer for your child.
A good reputation There’s no denying that Mums love to chat, especially when it comes to their kids. Ask your friends, mothers group or even other Mums at the playground for their thoughts on the best centres in your area. They’ll be certain to have an opinion and most likely have a story or two which could save you heartache down the track.
Safety Each year thousands of children across Australia are injured while in day care. The most common of these injuries are due to falls. While some accidents can’t be avoided, you can eliminate most of the risk factors by ensuring your centre adheres to strict safety regulations. When you visit the centre for the first time, take a look around for smoke detectors, screens and bars for windows, as well as checking that toys and equipment are in good condition. Don’t be afraid to ask questions either – a quality carer should have the answers you need almost immediately.
Happy and caring staff Education standards for carers vary from state to state and throughout the different styles of day care so it may be worth investigating the training of your potential carer. These are the people you are entrusting the care of your child to so things like high staff turn-over, not having an open door policy for parents and lack of communication should all be warning signs that the staff may not be up to scratch.
A stimulating curriculum It’s not uncommon to find day care centres teaching toddlers the basics of foreign language or learning about shapes and colours on an iPad. While new technology offers our children opportunities like never before, don’t forget the basics; physical playtime (preferably outdoors), quiet play, individual and group activities should all make up a well-rounded schedule. Be wary of the carers who have no plan or use television as a big source of entertainment.
Trust your instinct Mother’s intuition is a beautiful thing. If something doesn’t feel right, well it probably isn’t. For a great barometer, take your child with you to visit the centre or carer. By experiencing it at their level you’ll be exposed to any safety concerns or issues you may have missed as well as being able to see first-hand how they bond with staff and adapt to surroundings.
Then it’s just a matter of packing their lunchbox and a few tissues for you.
What makes your carer great? Tell us about your good or bad day care experiences.