Choosing a kindergarten for your child can be a challenging process. Firstly, there seems to be an influx of new private day-care and kindergarten options everywhere you look. But more than that, this is likely the first time that you have had to entrust your child’s wellbeing to someone outside of your close network of family and friends. The task of choosing the right kindergarten might seem quite daunting, especially if you are a first-time parent.
Before embarking on this journey, it is vital to first have a good understanding of what kindergarten is all about.
The concept of kindergarten
The concept of kindergarten came from Friedrich Froebel in 1837, who believed that all children have unique God-given gifts such as curiosity, naivety and inquisition that help them to grow as people. The term ‘kindergarten’ directly translates to ‘child’s garden.’ He emphasised that children should learn through play, and navigate their gifts in a diverse and structured environment that lets them express themselves freely. Froebel incorporated principles of social imitation, learning through expression and systemised play in his early model of kindergarten. The concept of kindergarten is not to provide a babysitting service, but to construct a safe and nurturing environment for children to find their own voice through play and social interaction.
Choosing the right kindergarten
Most parents are particularly careful when it comes to ensuring the welfare of their children. There are websites that audit and provide information about a wide range of kindergartens and early learning centres to ensure that they are accredited and have a good record. A great source of information is mychild.gov.au, set up by the Australian Government to provide you with information about kindergartens in your area. You can search your post code to generate a list of all local preschools and kindergartens. The website also features a statement on the quality of services and whether the organisation meets Australian national standards.
Visiting the kindergarten
We suggest that parents make it a priority to tour prospective kindergartens during their operating hours. When visiting kindergartens, here are some things to look for:
- A vibrant setting - children’s artwork should be displayed on the walls and there should be an overall feeling of creativity and action.
- Demeanour of the children – do they look engaged and happy?
- Procedures to ensure safety – what policies does the kindergarten have in place?
- How staff interact with the children - are they warm and attentive?
- Structured play – what does it mean for the school?
- Learning outcomes – what are expected for kindergarten students?
Choosing the right kindergarten for your child is just the first step. Once your child is enrolled, they will take some time to settle in to the new environment and routine. It is normal for them to feel separation anxiety in the first few weeks. They will likely be challenged by the new setting and will need your support and encouragement during this time.
Looking to enrol your son at a school, but do not know where to start? Download a copy of our ebook The comprehensive guide to choosing the right school for your family for insights into researching, visiting and applying at a private school.