Factors to Help Choose an Early Learning Centre

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    The time has come for you to find a childcare centre for your child. 

    Every parent wants to make sure they are selecting the optimal child care facility for their child. After all, their child is their most precious cargo! They aren't going to send them just anywhere for the day when they aren't able to be with them, nor should they!

    But so many times, the price can end up being the primary factor for choosing a facility, and that should not always be the case. There is so much that child care facilities have to offer, including Precious Lambs.

    Make sure that you do your research when selecting your child's child care facility. Raise the standards you are willing to accept and know that price isn't always the most important thing!

    Sending your little one to daycare is a huge parenting milestone. Choosing the right centre can be overwhelming and challenging for any parent with all the factors to consider. The fact that you will be leaving your child under the care of other people is more than enough to make you feel anxious. But don't worry. High-quality child care centres provide a safe, engaging and friendly environment for young children.

    Once you start doing your homework, it seems like you are spoilt for choice - there are so many options to choose from. So how do you make the right decision?

    We can understand your confusion; this is a decision that most parents struggle with – you want to do the right thing for your child. You want them to be loved, safe, and learning, but above all, and you want them to be happy.

    We certainly struggled with this when it was time for me to make this decision for my family. 

    There are so many things to think of when on the hunt for a quality childcare centre, and this will vary from person to person. What is important for you will depend on your personality, the personality of your child, and your family's priorities. 

    Factors, besides price, that should be considered when selecting a child care facility:

    Quality Matters

    We know quality comes first in your search for quality child care, preschool, and school-age care. First, of course, you want your child to have a safe, supportive and enriching environment, and programs like Indiana's Paths to QUALITY™ system can help you understand what quality means.

    Additionally, it would help if you considered other factors, including your child's age and personality, where you live or work, program philosophies and cost in finding care.

    High-quality child care providers can come in many shapes and sizes. Take a step back to think about what type of care will best fit your needs and the needs of your child.

    Hours of Operation

    Depending on your circumstances, this may be a critical piece that you will need to determine. Do you have the flexibility to accommodate shorter hours of operation?

    Or are you committed to a fixed schedule at work where you may need longer hours for child care? Also, make sure you understand what the policies are for late pick-ups, as well.

    Even if you never intend to be late, there may be those times where the impossible happens, and you will need a backup. Make sure you're prepared!

    Program and curriculum

    No matter how young your little one may be, it's never too early to begin age-appropriate learning. When looking for daycare, take time to learn each centre's program and curriculum. Find out what lessons are being taught and if these lessons are age-appropriate.

    Ask what their goals are for teaching and if the programs are tailored according to a child's age and developmental stage. You'll also want to ensure ample time for play because play is essential to young children's holistic growth.

    Also, ask how you can get updates on your child's developmental progress.

    Familiarise yourself with each childcare centre's curriculum. Ask each centre how it prepares children for school. Are the teachers required to create a lesson plan for their class? Ask about the reasoning behind the chosen curriculum and its advantages.

    Compare the different curriculums to each other and decide which one would benefit your child the most. The time your child spends each day at the childcare centre will help to establish a lifetime foundation and enthusiasm for learning.

    There are so many different philosophies and curriculums out there today in the child care world, so make sure you do your research and find a facility that matches your expectations.

    Are you looking for more "developmental" or "academic" needs for your child? Each facility will have its own daily schedule, structure and activities that they promote, so make sure you know what the daily curriculum involves.

    Ask questions and find out specific things each facility would do to prepare your children for school. You want to make sure you're establishing a lifetime foundation and enthusiasm for learning!


    Facilities And Materials

    A high-quality childcare centre has a friendly and warm environment conducive to learning. Be sure to pick a daycare with clean and sanitary buildings and classrooms. Check their toys and learning materials to make sure they are safe and child-friendly.

    Are the materials age-appropriate? Are the pieces of equipment in good working condition? By taking the time to check these things, it will be a lot easier to select a learning environment that can bring out the best in your child.

    The ratio of Staff to Children

    Make sure you learn more about what the ratio is for staff to children. For example, the more staff that a facility has may mean that every child will be getting more individual attention, which could be beneficial if your child does better in small groups.

    One of the most important indicators of a quality centre is the teacher: child ratios and groups sizes.  

    Currently, the minimum teacher: child ratio for children under the age of two is 1:5 and the minimum teacher: child ratio for children over the age of two is 1:10.

    You would know from your experience as a parent that sometimes just caring for one or two children is a full-time job, so I am sure that you would know first- the hand that it would be of benefit to children, for there to be less of them cared for by one adult.

    Quality interactions matter, too, as ratios are meaningless if the adults are constantly engaged in conversations or preoccupied with cleaning instead of giving the children their full attention.

    Another commonly overlooked factor is group size. Numerous studies have proven that large, noisy, overcrowded group settings can have a detrimental effect on the development of young children. This especially true for an environment that caters for infants – look for group sizes of under 12 children in infant areas.


    While all child care centres may be a little messy with all of the little hands that are constantly in and out of everything, it's still a great idea to take a peek "behind the scenes" when you're taking a tour of the facility.

    Check out the bathrooms and kitchen and make sure they are held to standards of cleanliness that you would expect your child to be around all day long.

    Hygiene is important for little ones, and you want to make sure they are going to be well taken care of while they are out of your care.

    Teacher And Student Interaction

    The teachers and staff in the daycare should also be assessed during your visit. Be sure to learn more about the teachers' educational background and experience when working with kids. Find out if they have been trained and certified in first aid, CPR and infection control.

    Also, don't forget to pay attention to how the staff and teachers interact with their students.

    Observe if they have an engaging interaction and if the children respond well to their teacher. Also, notice their actions, body language and the words they use in communicating with kids.

    Staff Turnover 

    High staff turnover can negatively affect your child. Young children thrive on consistency.

    The constant turnover of staff members interrupts a child's schedule and routine. Building a trusting relationship with someone and having consistency helps make a child's day go much easier.

    Don't be afraid to ask about the staff turnover rates. If staff are constantly in flux at the facility, it may be best to avoid it. It may mean there are deeper rooted problems, and they cannot find and retain quality staff.

    High turnover can also negatively affect your child, who may work well with a teacher who suddenly is no longer there.

    It can greatly influence a child's daily routine and schedule. Having the same staff working with your child day after day builds a level of trust that helps to make a child's day go much easier and is more conducive to learning.

    Day To Day Activities

    The daily activities and routine can vary greatly between daycare centres.

    For example, some invest more time in structured classroom activities, while others emphasise outdoor trips and activities.

    Consider your child's needs and behaviour to determine the daycare program that suits them best. Also, consider how it compliments your parenting style.

    Snacks and Meals

    If your child is attending child care all day, make sure you know the policies on snacks and meals. For example, will you be expected to provide food for your child every day? Is this part of the overall tuition at the child care facility?

    If it is provided, what types of things are offered? How are food allergies handles, and are the items they offer healthy and nutritious?

    Ensuring your child has proper nutrition throughout the day is an extremely important part of choosing a child care centre, so make sure you find one that meshes with how you want snacks and meals handled.

    Training, Licensing and Credentials

    Do the facilities that you are looking into have well-educated and experienced staff?

    You want to make sure your child is exposed to high-quality interactions and activities daily. Ask each facility what the experience and education level is of the teachers and director.

    Is the facility licensed correctly? Is there a place where you can see teacher biographies to get a better feel for who your child will be spending their days with? Is there someone on staff who has CPR and first aid training?

    Ensure you do your homework and that the teachers your child will be with have the right credentials and experience!

    School Environment

    Another important factor to consider when choosing a daycare is the school environment. Pick a childcare centre with a warm and welcoming environment. Make sure that the location is also safe for young children.

    Find out if the school has safety and security procedures to protect its students. Are the buildings, classrooms, playgrounds and outdoor areas safe for kids? Are there any safety hazards you should be worried about?

    Take time to take a look at these things when you're at the facility you're checking out.


    Is it better to find a child care facility that is close to home or close to work? That is it easier for you to get to or your partner to get to? Figuring out the logistics of how you will get your child to and from a child care centre will be an important step in choosing one.

    You'll also want to consider the location of the child care facility concerning the neighbourhood it is in. Is it safe? Is there plenty of parking? Is it in a well-maintained area, and is it well-lit once those early winter nights start showing up? Making sure the location of a potential child care facility is as safe as possible and easy for you to get to will help narrow down your options.


    Starting in a new centre can be a daunting, stressful time for you and your child, especially if they have not attended a childcare centre before. Find out about the centre's process for welcoming new children and families into the centre.

    For example, how many settling visits are required, what will happen during these visits, and the flexibility to have more visits if needed?

    Convenient Payment Options 

    What kind of payments does the childcare centre accept? For example, does the centre accept credit cards, including AmEx and debit cards? Does it offer automatic charging of your card or bank account for making payments?

    Does the centre have discounts for paying monthly? Although it shouldn't be the only factor to consider, how much you pay for care can be important in your decision. 

    Find out about the philosophy and the policies.

    The centre's philosophy is a statement about "what matters" to the people at the centre. It is an outline of the centre values and beliefs or approaches towards children's learning.

    It is important to see if the centre philosophy aligns with your family's values and beliefs as a parent. Don't be afraid to ask questions and get clarification about things that you don't understand.

    It is important to learn about the centre's policies, especially around food and nutrition, health and safety, positive guidance and illness. For example, if the centre provides meals, what does the menu look like? Is the food healthy and nutritious? How does the centre cater for dietary requirements and allergies?

    What is the centre's policy around dealing with children's behaviour? For example, how will they deal with accidents or incidents?

    Does this align with what is important to your family, and how are parents consulted?

    What happens if your child becomes ill at the centre? How long will they have to stay away?

    It is important to note that if this is your child's first time in childcare outside of the home, they may be more susceptible to colds and viruses, especially in the first year.

    Your Gut Reaction

    Finally, there isn't anything quite like your gut reaction after touring different child care facilities.

    If you get a bad feeling, it probably isn't going to be the centre for you. Instincts are important, and even if there is absolutely nothing wrong with the child care centre that you can see, you always want to make sure you and your child will be comfortable with the new facility!

    When you look at all of these factors together, you can only make an informed and educated decision about what child care facility your child should go to. Simply choosing the cheapest option may not be the most beneficial for your child or your family!

    Without quality factors included, like the ones above, you could be setting your child up for failure. Here at Precious Lambs, we take great pride in offering a quality program for toddlers, as well as preschoolers.

    My door is always open for questions and tours when it's time for you to find your optimal child care facility!

    Here are some tips for what to consider when choosing the right centre for your child.
    1. Determine the type of childcare service you are looking for. ...
    2. Type of Education and Philosophy. ...
    3. Location of the childcare centre. ...
    4. Availability & Waiting List. ...
    5. Childcare Costs. ...
    6. Flexibility. ...
    7. Licencing and Registration.

    When choosing a childcare centre, you as the parent have the right to expect it will provide a safe, supportive place for your child's self-identity and awareness to grow. It's important that educators in your choice of centre value each child's individual interests and opinions and treat them with respect and love.

    A high-quality childcare center has a friendly and warm environment conducive to learning. Be sure to pick a daycare with clean and sanitary buildings and classrooms. Check their toys and learning materials to make sure they are safe and child-friendly.

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