Making the decision to return to work after having a baby can be incredibly difficult. In addition to separation anxiety (which often plagues parents more than kids!), it’s hard to know if the people you are handing your child over to every day will care for them to your exacting standards.
Childcare services in the ACT have strict regulations to ensure a certain duty of care is provided. However, not all centres rank equally when it comes to the quality of that care.
To get the inside scoop on what parents should be asking before they settle on a childcare service, we spoke to Rebecca Sleeman, Director of Artemis Early Learning.
Founded in late 2014, Artemis Early Learning has quickly established itself as one of the leading childcare providers in south Canberra. With 5 star reviews from parents willing to travel across Canberra for their services, we asked Rebecca what it takes to run a centre with such a quality reputation.
“Choosing a childcare centre can feel a little daunting, and it’s important to find somewhere that is the right culture fit for your family,” says Rebecca. “When you’re returning to work, and seeking childcare that also helps your child socialise and gain independence, it pays to properly investigate your options and objectives.”
Asking the right questions
As well as finding a centre that meets your needs in terms of location, cost, hours of operation and daily routine, Rebecca notes the importance of taking a tour of the service.
“Taking a tour allows you to examine things like cleanliness, ambience, noise, natural light and the quality of toys and play equipment. You can’t hide the standard of these things, no matter how much slick marketing is thrust upon you.”
“And don’t hesitate to ask questions about the service’s behaviour management policies, the experience of educators and management, and the quality of food being served to the children. If possible, speak to parents who have children at the centre, or look for online reviews.
“Choosing childcare is a big decision and most services understand that and will be transparent about their practices, qualifications, policies and so on.”
What quality looks like
“For us, it’s about building trust with parents and ensuring their child feels secure while giving them the opportunity to express themselves and develop in a very positive manner,” says Rebecca.
“Routine helps children feel safe, but that routine works differently depending on how old they are. We divide our ages into three separate groups, because children under 5 have very different developmental needs. It also means they have their own safe spaces to explore.
“Our educators are all highly qualified, and we supply everything the children need for the day – except formula as we’ve found that offering a different brand to the one parents use at home can create problems. All food is prepared fresh onsite, in a dedicated kitchen and dining room. We’re lucky because the space we operate in was specifically designed as a childcare centre – not repurposed from an obsolete office or retail space.”
Rebecca says that childcare should be more than a baby-sitting service, and provide genuine ways for children to develop emotionally, physically and mentally.
“We work off the Early Years Learning Framework, which focusses on developing the strength of each child but doesn’t force them to participate where they don’t want to.
“We also offer extra curricula activities such as Kenny Koala, Gilbert the Garbage Truck, sign language, yoga, and more. It’s exciting to watch the kids grow in confidence and independence before heading off to school.”
To learn more about Artemis Early Learning, or to speak with Rebecca about care for your child, visit Artemis or call 02 6239 3927.
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