SPONSORED: Scientists have found children’s brains grow fast from birth to age five years, learning lots. Quality early childhood education and care shapes a child’s future, laying the foundation for healthy learning and development. It’s important for every child to get opportunities to learn and develop every day – at child care and at home.

Starting Blocks is a government website for families with trusted information on early childhood education and care, all in one place.

It’s a great starting point to:

  • learn about children’s developmental milestones
  • understand what to expect from a child cares service
  • find child care services and learn about their National Quality Standard quality ratings
  • get tips on starting child care, preschool or school
  • get tips on things to do at home to encourage children’s learning and development.

Choosing the right child care service for your child

All children and families are unique, and your experiences will guide your decision on the best child care options for your child and family.

Available types of child care across Australia include long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten, outside school hours care services.

All government-approved early childhood education and care services are assessed and rated against these seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS):

  1. Educational program and practice
  2. Children’s health and safety
  3. Physical environment
  4. Staffing arrangements
  5. Relationships with children
  6. Collaborative Partnerships with families and communities
  7. Governance and Leadership

These are the NQS quality ratings:

Child care quality ratings – image via Starting Blocks

You can find your nearest regulated services and their quality ratings using Starting Blocks’ Find Child Care search.

What does quality child care look like?

Once you’ve shortlisted some child care services, visiting them and asking questions can help you decide whether it’s the right fit for your child.

Starting Blocks’ checklist can come in handy:

  • Do we all feel welcome within the service?
  • Do the educators take time to speak with us and answer our questions?
  • Do educators get down to your child’s level and talk with them?
  • Are the educators engaging with other children in a warm manner?
  • Is the service clean and hygienic?
  • Is the outdoor environment inviting?
  • Is there child sized equipment and resources available to children?
  • Are the educators happy to tell you what they’re doing to improve the quality of the service?

Starting Blocks’ tip sheet on what you should look for when you visit a service includes questions you might ask.

A smooth transition

Starting child care is an exciting new chapter for your child and family, and there are lots of things you can do to get ready.

These activities at home can help a smooth transition to child care:

  • Routines: Waking up, eating breakfast and getting dressed at a similar time each morning helps your child settle into the routine you’ll use when they start child care.
  • Self-help skills: Practicing using the toilet independently and washing hands, and/or using tissues to blow their nose.
  • Practice spending time apart: Organising for your child to spend time with relatives or a babysitter to establish your routine for saying goodbye.

Taking the time to find the right child care for your little one can help you make the most of this special time and provide them with the best start in life.