There is an overwhelming amount of things to consider when you first start looking for childcare. The location, cost, hours and availability are the first big factors when narrowing down your possibilities.
Once you have found some possible candidates and you have booked a tour of the centre, what should you ask about?
If you are a first time mum like me, and just had no idea, here is a list of questions to help you get started:
1. Do you provide nappies?
Most centres provide nappies as part of their daily fee. But what type of nappies do they provide? Some centres only stock a particular brand which may not suit your child.
One centre I visited was open to stocking whichever brand I preferred. Another centre only provided cloth nappies.
As nappies are so expensive, its helpful to find out more about their policy.
2. How is the transition to childcare handled?
Ask if the centre will allow you to come in for a few visits before the official start date. Spend some time sitting with your child just playing and getting familiar with the surroundings.
These visits give your child a chance to bond with the caregivers and form some attachments. It will make that first drop off much easier knowing there is someone there who your child is beginning to trust.
3. How are the parents kept involved?
One centre I visited kept a book for each child which recorded what activities they did, what they learnt, and even included some photos. Other centres use an app for this.
It is important to know when your child slept and how much they ate, but it is equally nice to know how much fun they are having! It also gives you some good ideas of activities to try at home.
4. What is their cleaning policy?
Childcare centres are full of germs and some sickness is inevitable. Although the spread of germs is bound to happen, it's still important that a centre is kept as clean as possible.
Asking about their toy cleaning policy, and if they even have one, can be a good indication of the overall cleanliness. General clutter in a centre is normal, it reminds me of my home, but it should still be clean and toys sanitised often.
5. What is their play philosophy?
Childcare should be fun! You want to know that your child is going to have an enjoyable time when they go.
Ask questions like, how much time will they be spending outside playing? What is the interaction between the ages? What sorts of activities do you do?
These sorts of questions give you a really good idea about what centre will be suitable for your childs own individual little personality.
6. What are your meals like?
I love when a centre provides food, as it means that I don’t have to worry about packing a lunch box each day. At least until school starts! It also takes the guess work out of what is allowed.
But I want to make sure that what my child is eating is similar to what I would give to him at home. Ask for a current menu and how the food is prepared. Some centres will prepare fresh and healthy food made on site.
For more information on a particular centre see Here. This is a government run site that gives information on fees and availability and whether the centre is meeting the National Quality Standard.