The task of choosing the right kindergarten can be quite daunting, especially if you are a first-time parent. It’s likely to be the first time that you have had to entrust your child’s wellbeing to someone outside of your close network of family and friends. Your chosen kindergarten should be a safe and nurturing environment for children to find their own voice and learn through play and social interaction. It is not simply a babysitting service – it is an early learning experience where your child will learn vital skills that will carry them through school.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a kindergarten.
We suggest that parents prioritise touring prospective kindergartens before making any decisions. A vibrant setting is always a good sign. There should be an overall feeling of creativity and action, such as children’s artwork displayed on the walls and plenty for children to do both inside and out. Children have a natural curiosity that helps them to learn and grow and this should be encouraged at kindergarten.
Mood of staff and children
During your visit you should also watch how the teachers interact with the children. Teachers should be warm, attentive and engaging with children in activities. Similarly, children should look happy and engaged.
Procedures for safety
An important part of kindergarten is ensuring the childrens’ safety throughout the day, both for their physical safety and for your peace of mind. Safety procedures include everything from door handle height and safety gates, to the sign-in and sign-out process and authorised guardians. Ask about safety procedures and make sure you feel absolutely confident to leave your child in their care.
Although it may seem too early to be talking about learning outcomes, from when children are born we are already talking about development milestones. Learning outcomes are just development milestones for education. A good kindergarten should have a clear set of learning outcomes designed to help children learn, grow and identify potential strengths and weaknesses to best prepare them for school. These learning outcomes are usually assessed with structured play activities – activities that have set rules or instructions and a goal. Ask staff about the sort of activities that are played and the learning outcomes that are assessed. It’s also important to know when to expect to receive updates from teachers on your child’s progress.
Australian national standards
The National Quality Standard sets the national benchmark for early childhood education and care. There are seven outcomes that a kindergarten or daycare can be accredited for, and these outcomes are listed on the Australian Children’s Education & Care Quality Authority website. A good kindergarten should be accredited, and preferably excel in all areas of the National Quality Standard – be sure to enquire about them. Accreditations are usually displayed on the kindergarten website or in the reception area.
Choosing the right kindergarten for your child is just the first step. Once enrolled, it may take some time for your child to settle in to the new environment and routine. It is perfectly normal for them to get separation anxiety in the first few weeks but this will ease over time as they adjust to the new setting.
Discover what a typical day in Scots Kindergarten would look like for your child by downloading a copy of our EYC prospectus.