How to choose an early learning program to suit your family
Deciding on the right early learning program for your child is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as a parent. There are many different types of programs available and as such choosing which best fits your needs can be difficult. To help, we’ve pulled together some of the key things you should keep an out eye for.
- Is it safe? If you’re going to leave your child in an unfamiliar place, you want your child to feel secure. To be sure that you’re happy as well, you can go and visit the centres you’re considering. Assess how the room is setup. Talk to staff. Make sure you ask questions if you’re uncertain about something because your peace of mind while you’re away from your child is important too.
- Does it stimulate learning? It’s very important to have a positive learning environment for your child. Interest areas such as arts and craft, construction, puzzle play and sensory play help to stimulate a child’s creativity and curiosity. Thus, children are given the opportunity to grow and explore while having a great time playing. At Meerilinga we promote play-based learning in our Early Learning Program (ELP) because we believe that children who learn through play are happier and more confident.
- Is the atmosphere positive? Pay a visit to the centre you’re interested in and they will generally give you a tour of the facilities. This will let you to see how it operates. Once you’ve decided on a centre most also will offer your child a few playdates which you should be able to attend. This will help familiarize your child with their new surroundings, and will give you another look at how the staff and other children interact with one another.
- Is information about the program easy to access? Information including the safety policy, fees, upcoming events and what learning activities are offered should be available. This really important to look at before you make your final decision so you can compare different services and decide which is the best fit for you and your child.
- Is there a day schedule on display? Knowing the schedule is helpful so you know what your child will be up to each day and will you an insight on how the program will help them grow. Having routines in a learning environment is beneficial especially for an early learner as it gives them confidence and independence. An article on Petit Journey further explains why daily routines are important for your child.
- Are there enough staff for the amount of children in the room? Do a headcount and check the ratio. Nina Young writes in a Kidspot article that there are strict regulations on the number of carers present looking after kids and if the ratio is being neglected, then re-consider that centre as one of your options. In WA, the educator to child ratio for over 24 months and less than 36 months is 1:5. More information on educator to child ratios depending on age groups can be found here.
- Are the staff enthusiastic about their work? You want to leave your child in a place where the staff are hardworking and happy. On your visits to different childcare centres, don’t be afraid to ask questions to find out how the educators work and observe how they interact with the children.
There are many other things to look for when choosing the best early learning program for your child, but this list is a good starting point. Ultimately, if you feel your child will be safe, happy and nurtured, then you’re onto a good thing. If your child is aged from 2.5-4yrs, maybe you should consider looking for a quality Early Learning Program near you?