Child care centres vary immensely in size, from quite small groups where all of the children are cared for in one space through to very large centres with multiple rooms for children of each age.
When considering a potential centre, parents should carefully consider how the centre groups the children, asking;
- How large is each group?
- What is the age range of children in each group?
- Does each group have a dedicated area in the centre where they spend the majority of the day?
- Does each group have it’s own educators who spend the majority of the time working with the children and families of that group?
- Given the range of ages, how are learning experienced planned and conducted to suit the interests and abilities of children within the group? (especially important when children across a wide range of ages are grouped together)
- How many staff members are untrained/Diploma trained/Early Childhood trained for each group?
- Are the Centre Director, Cook and any other non-contact staff person included in the group ratios?
- How do staff maintain staff:child ratios when they need to leave the group to change a nappy or any similar task which takes their attention away from the larger group?
- How are the children grouped at the start and end of each day, when there may be fewer staff working (and often fewer children)? What activities are planned for this time?
A quality centre will group children of similar ages together; each group will be of manageable size with their own educators who have the opportunity to get to know the children and families well and are therefore able to select learning experiences which suit the interests and abilities of children within the group. Each group will have their own dedicated learning space and resources, their own program and routine.
A quality centre will have systems in place to ensure that all children are fully supervised at all times, even those times of day when less staff and children are present or when staff need to attend to unforeseen situations which take them away from the children.
Image: Pink Sherbet