Getting to know your child care centre
Starting early education and care for your child for the first time is often an unsettling time for families. Child care centres can be an entirely new environment for your child. But a few simple steps – and the right child care centre – can ensure a smooth transition and turn those fears into excitement and cheers.
Backed by 42 years of experience in educating and caring for children in Canberra and the ACT region, Communities@Work has fine-tuned the transition process across its 12 early education and care centres to create a positive and reassuring experience for families.
“The key to our successful transition process is that we don’t simply enrol children in our services, we enrol families,” Communities@Work Director of Children’s Services Kellie Stewart said.
“It’s a big step, particularly for those families with their first child. It may even be the first time they’re trusting somebody else to care for their child.
“So we put a lot of effort into making sure they’re comfortable with what we do, and have confidence and reassurance. If the family is comfortable then their child will settle much better. That means providing them with as much information as we possibly can and gaining as much information from them as we can.
“This ensures we’re meeting in a collaborative relationship and are all going on the transition journey together.”
To guide families on that journey, Ms Stewart and her team of dedicated educators have put together tips on choosing and getting to know your child care centre.
Tip #1: Tour your short-listed child care centres
Look at as many child care centres as you like, ask as many questions as you like and don’t be afraid of ‘silly questions’. There’s no such thing!
Tip #2: Work out what you want from the centre you choose for your child
What are you looking for? What features are most important to you? Not all centres are the same – with different philosophies, routines and facilities. Watch how the other children interact with each other, your child and the educators. This will tell you a lot. You will know what feels right for you and your child.
Tip #3: Come in for orientation visits at the child care centre
Okay, so you’ve picked the centre you like and filled in the enrolment forms. Now comes the fun stuff. Come in with your child for as many orientation visits as you need. This is a great opportunity for your child to get to know the staff and other children at the child care centre.
But just as importantly, it’s an opportunity for you to get to know the educators, the flow of the room, the routines. See how educators resolve conflict with children and organise transition times between events. Our educators are professional and qualified. Seeing that professionalism in action will help you to build up trust and make you feel more comfortable about leaving your child with us.
Tip #4: Tell us about your child
Tell us what your child likes to do, what they don’t want to do, their fears, phobias and routines. It’s also helpful for us to know about the important people in their lives, as well as family issues and situations that can impact your child’s behaviour. The more information we can gather, the better we will understand them and be able to develop appropriate strategies to make their transition easier.
Tip #5: Share your expectations with us
Share what you expect from us, so we make sure that we’re meeting your goals as well as ours. That way everyone’s on the same page and moving in the same direction.
Tip #6: Talk, talk and more talk!
Communication with families – lots of it – is one of our key philosophies. Communicating with your child to make them feel welcome. Communicating with you to tell you everything you need to know. And communicating with you to get to know you and what’s important to you.
Tip #7: Involve your child in the preparations
Allow your child to participate as much as possible in the preparations before the big first week. Include them in centre visits. Talk about the educators so they become familiar names. Let them help with packing their bag. Above all, show excitement, not anxiety about their new adventure, as your feelings will rub off on them.
Following these simple steps will ensure a much smoother transition for both you and your child, and make those first few weeks at your chosen child care centre an enjoyable experience.
Watch out for next week’s article: Tips for transitioning to child care: The first month.
Communities@Work is Canberra’s largest community organisation and provider of children’s services, with almost 4500 children enrolled throughout its 12 child care centres, 15 before and after school care services, 11 school holiday programs, and 100 family day care educators.
For more information about Communities@Work’s extensive range of child care centres and other community services around Canberra, please visit commsatwork.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 6293 6500.
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