It’s a fact of modern life that increasingly more infants and toddlers are spending time each day in some type of childcare setting. Choosing the best childcare for your child can seem overwhelming as there are many options to choose from – each with their own benefits and disadvantages. What is important is that whatever option you choose, your child feels safe, secure and happy.
The childcare provider is the cornerstone of quality childcare
Don’t be swayed by beautiful venues, exceptional resources and policy documents which seem to tick all the right boxes – what research has consistently shown is that the childcare provider (i.e. the person who attends to your child) is the most important element in quality childcare.
The way children are treated by caregiving adults shapes their development (even the way their brain becomes wired and functions) so it is essential to find a childcare professional who both understands and nurtures your child’s learning through the everyday moments. For example, does the caregiver talk to your baby during a nappy change, comfort or sing to him or her if they are protesting? Or is the nappy change conducted silently, with little attention paid to the child’s experience?
Look for a caregiver who is:
Loving and responsive
A positive relationship between your child and their caregiver is created when the caregiver:
- Hugs, rocks, cuddles, makes eye contact and enjoys interacting with your child
- Responds to your child’s emerging skills and interests, finding ways to expand upon their play
- Is sociable and interested in children, supporting your child to build relationships with other children and adults
- Talks to your child about what they do and see, playfully introducing new ideas, objects and games
Respects your child's individual needs
Great caregivers are sensitive and accepting of your child’s individuality as well as any difference in your family’s culture, ethnic background and customs.
They recognise your child’s:
- Personal rhythms (e.g. sleep patterns)
- Strengths and weaknesses
- Need for play, rest and food & water
- Special needs or requirements and be comfortable with them and plan accordingly
Provides a stimulating & child-friendly environment
A quality environment is well planned and invites children to learn and grow. Great caregivers provide:
- A clean and safe environment so that children can explore their surroundings
- An environment which changes to accommodate the needs of growing infants and toddlers
- Interesting and stimulating things to explore in order to enhance children’s natural curiosity and intellectual development