Find the Closest Family Daycare Near You
There are many benefits to family daycare, and thousands of families choose this option for their children every year. But if you’re undecided about whether to go down the path of family daycare or a more centre-based setting, there are positives and negatives to both options.
Depending on your preferences, and your child’s personality, you might prefer one over the other. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision.
Family daycare centres are certainly smaller and more intimate, and you might like the idea that children of varying ages get to interact with each other. Similarly, you might feel that your child would be over stimulated in a communal play area. Centre-based childcares offer both multi-age settings, but also divide their children into age groups to ensure the care and learning experiences are appropriate for that specific age. This is not always possible in family daycare settings due to limited number or space constraints.
Some centres tend to divide children according to their age to provide a focused space for them to work through their own developmental milestones. Other centres feel that younger children benefit from multi-age play. There are arguments for both systems so the right environment really comes down to your child’s individual needs and likes.
Convenience and location
No matter the setting, if your childcare centre is conveniently located to your home or workplace your days will likely go a lot more smoothly. Drop-offs and pick-ups will be so much less stressful when you don’t have to factor in things like traffic that might make you late for a morning meeting. Or a huge distance to cross should your child fall ill and you need to get to him or her quickly.
For instance, is there parking on site, or space to leave your pram during the day if you travel on foot? Is the centre close to public transport? What are the hours of operation? Does the centre offer casual care bookings for when you need them?
Do they look happy and engaged. How long have they worked in the centre? Happy staff means happy children – so this is a big consideration when choosing a preschool. Ask about staff ratios – it’s okay for a centre to meet minimum requirements for their educator numbers, but what matters more is whether educators look engaged and whether they’ve built quality relationships with the children around them.
Approach to learning
What kind of learning opportunities will your child have? And is this something that’s important to you? It would be unlikely that a Preschool or Kindergarten program would be offered at a family daycare centre. If helping prepare your child for primary school is something you want in a childcare provider, then perhaps a centre-based approach will be more fitting.
Guardian run incredible Moving On Up To School programs for children aged three and up. These programs help children prepare for the exciting transition to primary school, and are led by qualified teachers – all with the benefit of long care hours for families. As your child gets a little older, this is something worth considering when weighting up family daycare against a centre-based childcare provider.
Will the Centre keep you up to date during the day with what your child is doing? Collaborating with families ensures children’s routines remain consistent from home to centre. This helps children feel safe and secure, which in turns creates an environment where they can feel free to explore and learn. The best childcare centres will work closely with you to ensure a seamless experience and will support you via additional measures above and beyond simply caring for you child.
This might look like family communication apps or platforms to keep you informed throughout the day with photos, videos and updates about your child. Or providing your child with unexpected benefits such as exposure to a range of cultures and languages via a diverse and multi-cultural educator mix.
Nutrition and wellbeing
Educating children about healthy eating and wellbeing is an important part of early childhood development and a key building block in shaping their attitudes to food for life. What will your child be eating on a daily basis? Children will role model adult approaches to food, so ask how the Centre approaches mealtimes. Make sure they replicate your values when it comes to nutrition and mealtimes.
Some childcare centres offer on-site cooks and all meals and snacks are included. Others require you to pack food and formula/milk for your child. Make sure you find out what your chosen centre offers, as this is a big factor when it comes to day-to-day planning.
Does the centre include nappies, bibs, bedding and other such items? Most centre-based childcare will provide all of this as part of your daily fee. So, while family daycare can seem more affordable at first glance, you should also factor in the extras that may not be covered – both in times of cost and convenience. And don’t forget questions about the centre fees and any rebates and entitlements you might be able to claim such as the Child Care Subsidy.
Making the decision
The key when making your decision is to try before you buy. Leaving your child in the care of anyone else is tough. At the end of the day, finding the right setting for your child can make a huge difference to the way they feel about learning and how they engage with the people around them.
It’s a big decision, so don’t be afraid to request a visit before committing to any provider – be it a family daycare or a centre-based childcare. When you arrive, look around at the centre at the available experiences. Does the space have lots of light, natural materials, and engaging spaces? Do other children look happy and engaged?
Booking a tour is easy. Find the childcare centres you would like to take a tour of and either book online, or call to arrange a time that’s convenient for you. With more than 120 centres across Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra and Adelaide, there’s likely a Guardian Centre near you.
Browse the map below to see which centres are near you, and click through to read more about what they offer for families and children.