Deciding on a childcare centre for your child is a huge decision, and what may work for one family may not for another. There are numerous options available to you which can make it overwhelming when narrowing down your choices. Here we’ll share some pros and cons of the different types to help you establish which one is the most suitable choice for your child.
You have likely heard of childcare centres before. In most parts of the country, there are multiple centres to choose from in the one suburb. Most centres offer full daycare for children aged 6 weeks to 6 years old. Most centres operate from Monday to Friday, and their opening hours can differ slightly but are usually around 6:30 am to 6:30 pm. As there are so many centres, they are easily accessible to families, and you can typically find one close by. The only downfall is that they don’t cater to families that work shift work, atypical hours, public holidays, or weekends. If your job requires you to work these kinds of hours, it may not be the best choice. When enrolling your child into a daycare centre, you usually do so permanently with set days during the week that they attend. Depending on availability, you may be able to book a casual day if need be. One of the great things about childcare centres is the inclusions that they offer. Many will include meals, nappies, hats and more.
Preschool, Kindergarten or Prep
The year before your child starts primary school is called preschool, kindergarten or pre-prep, depending on where you live. This time is about getting your child for their next big milestone – starting big school! They will learn about many things, some of them include:
- How to write, recognise and spell their name.
- The alphabet, counting, shapes and colours
- Cutting with scissors and learning to hold a pencil correctly
- Building confidence, social skills, and resilience
While many centres offer a similar curriculum, your child can partake in this learning via various avenues. Such as:
- School-based program
- Community-run program
It’s worth investigating each to determine which will be the best fit for your family and child.
Flexible daycare provides families with childcare for their child/ren on a casual or needs basis. This type of care is suited to those who work irregular hours and don’t have set days for work. It allows them to book their children in when they need them to be looked after rather than set days each week.
Family daycare differs from a regular daycare centre as the carer to child ratio is much less. With this type of care, you’ll find there is generally one carer who owns the property and runs a childcare service from their home. Many families choose this type of care due to the smaller number of children, and the care can usually be catered to your requirements. Many family daycares are happy to work with you and your schedule.
With the cost of childcare and the need to work return to work ever-rising, more and more families are looking for alternative solutions. One of those is asking family to help with the care. Other options include live-in nanny type arrangements. For families that have more than one child and would have to pay full fees at a daycare centre, a full-time or live-in nanny works out to be much more economical while providing convenience with the hours of care.
Before/after school care/vacation care
This type of care is for children of primary school age and is commonly used by working caregivers that work before and past school hours. Many schools offer this, and if they don’t, there are generally other providers that offer this service nearby, including some daycare centres. Using this service involves dropping them at the centre, and then the staff will take your child to school on a bus with other students. If they are attending after school care, they pick them up from a designated location and take them back to the centre. They generally put on activities for the children including cooking, craft, sports etc. Most start at 6:30 am and close at 6:30 pm. It’s not uncommon for many families from the same school to use this service, and children will often make friends with other children not only from their school but other neighbouring schools also. Another service most before and after school providers offer is vacation care. It is available during school holiday time and on public holidays. During the school holidays, the centres will have a full curriculum organised for the kids, including excursions to the movies, animal parks, theme parks etc as well as in-house cooking classes, art classes, sports carnivals and much more. You can book your child in for as many or as few days as you need. Like many of the other childcare options mentioned above, you do receive a childcare subsidy from Centrelink, if eligible.
As you can see, there are plenty of options to choose from, sometimes the hardest part is deciding which one to pick. Our advice is to visit a few different ones that you like and make your decision from there. Meeting the staff and checking out the centre is a great way to determine if it’s a good fit for your child so get in contact with the childcare experts at Little Saints.