Routines are important to young children and I have written reasons why on a previous post, Finding Our Rhythm. Child care centres should maintain well defined, but flexible, routines which are adjusted according to the age, development and needs of children within the group being cared for. When considering a potential child care centre, gather information about the centre’s daily routine by asking questions such as;
- Is the routine tailored to the needs of children of different ages?
- Is there a good balance of indoor time and outdoor time?
- Is there a good balance of active versus less active activities
- Is there a good balance of free play activities and educator led activities?
- Is the routine, as it relates to outdoor play, tailored to the seasons with adjustments for very hot or very cold/wet weather?
- How flexible is the routine as a whole and to the individual needs of a child? For example, what if a child clearly needs sleep outside of an allocated rest time?
- How are everyday routines managed to reduce the amount of time during the day that the children spend ‘waiting?’ This is most common during transition times between parts of the routine – for example, waiting to be seated and served lunch or morning tea, or waiting for a nappy change or turn to use the toilet.
- How does the centre manage those times of the day when children from various age groupings combine? Most commonly these will be at the beginning and end of the day when the number of children present and staff on duty is less.
- What is the routine as families arrive at the Centre and settle their children into the day? What routines should family members follow when collecting their child for the day?
The ABC of Child Care series of posts aims to illustrate for parents what quality child care looks like in practice as both a tool for parents looking for child care for the first time and as a resource for all parents with children in care. As someone who ran a high quality centre for many years, I believe we all share a responsibility to ask questions and expect results when it comes to the environment and people caring for and educating our youngest and most impressionable citizens.
Find the other posts in the ABC of Child Care series here.