Choosing an Early Learning Centre

Parents all want the best start in life for their children. Choosing the best Early Learning Centre (ELC) for your child can therefore be a daunting task.

Every family is different, and so is every child. Essentially, you should choose a centre that offers a quality service, fits your individual needs and has the right feel.

A great ELC can set your children on the path to an exceptional education by making them feel comfortable, engaging them, educating them and developing their social skills. This requires a comprehensive program that covers all aspects of child development.

Your personal belief in the way a child should be educated and cared for will also influence your choice. While researching the options, it is important to listen to your inner voice and feelings.

When you begin thinking about early learning for your child, likely considerations include:

  • proximity to home or work
  • cost
  • attendance options
  • educational outcomes
  • quality
  • reputation
  • application process
  • security

Having researched ELCs available to you that fit your key criteria, it is important to visit them. The way a centre feels to you is a good indication of whether it is right for your family.

While good programs are essential, your child must be happy there. When you arrange a centre tour, ask yourself:

  • Is the environment welcoming?
  • Do you feel confident that your child will feel comfortable, happy and cared for here?
  • What are the children doing? Are they busy, engaged and interacting with others?
  • What learning experiences are available?
  • Did staff greet you warmly and make you feel welcome?
  • What relationships are evident between the children and the staff?
  • What is the staff to child ratio?
  • What is the centre’s philosophy?
  • What features does it have?
  • How do staff communicate with families?
  • How is this service rated under National Quality Standards?

It is important to follow your ‘inner voice’ when answering these questions as you know your child best and understand her/his personality, needs and requirements. Discussing these with the educators during your visit will indicate how well these will be supported.

It is also crucial that your children also visit so you can see if they establish a connection. They will spend a large amount of their time being educated and cared for here, so they must feel comfortable and happy.

Haileybury’s ELC staff are happy to arrange tours for prospective parents and can answer any questions you might have about your child’s needs. They know how consuming this process can be and can explain how Haileybury’s ELCs work and how all good centres should operate.

The Victorian Government has a comprehensive list of what to look for in a good childcare service.

Read more here.