Ask any parent what their greatest wish is when they hand over their most precious little person into the care of another, and they will tell you -I want them to be safe and happy'. But how can you tell your child is getting what they need from the experience and thriving in childcare?
'When care is being given by an early childhood education service, parents will often tell us -I want them to learn and grow, to make new friends, to have fun … and maybe to miss me, just a little,'" says childcare expert and Community Kids Childcare & Early Education Centres Operations Manager Freya Lucas.
'As someone who is blessed enough to help care for these precious little people, day in and day out, I am happy to say, they do miss you, they talk about you with such fondness, and love to greet you with the biggest of smiles and hugs when you return at the end of your busy day."
Ms Lucas says there are particular things children do to indicate that they are learning and growing, making new friends, and feel safe, secure and happy.
Here are the five ways to know your child is not only surviving, but thriving, in childcare:
When your child is excited about getting ready to go to care, and happily completes their morning routine, getting ready to leave home, gathering the things they need for their day. A 'case of the Mondays" is normal if they've had a late night, or if there has been a disruption to their normal routine, but on balance, happy faces are a good sign.
Children who are thriving at childcare have connections – to educators and to other children. If your child is able to tell you about a special someone – be that another child, an educator, or even a special classroom pet – it's a sign they are feeling safe and secure in their care environment, and they are forming relationships and bonds which tell them that this is a place of safety and belonging.
Has your child ever started singing or humming a song you haven't heard, or repeating a phrase such as 'squirt some soap and rub it in, don't forget to count to 10?" This is a sure sign that they are feeling safe and secure in childcare – after all, how much can you retain if you're not feeling happy in your environment?
If your child is old enough to communicate verbally, there are some great conversation starters you can use with them, such as 'I had grapes for my morning tea today, what did you have?" or 'tell me something which made you smile today" – these open the communication doors, and will give you a chance to engage with your child about how
they are feeling in childcare. If they are happy to talk about their day, it's a great sign.
Finally, when you come to collect your child at the end of the day, they will of course be happy to see you – but should also be engaged, and happy to keep playing, even though it is time to go home.
'Of course, every child is different, growing, learning, and developing at different rates. Just like the rest of us, children have preferences about the people they connect with, and the things they like to do," says Ms Lucas.
'But you can also be sure about what's going on at childcare by talking to the educators about your child's experience. A sign of a great childcare service is one that is always ready to talk with you about your child's progress, and how they are settling in to the care."
Community Kids Childcare & Early Education Centres offer high quality, affordable long day care, before and after school care, and vacation care. The centres provide children a safe, happy and healthy environment, which recognises the special needs and talents of individual children through the employment of caring, qualified educators and to ensure that all aspects of each child's developmental needs form the basis of our programs. Community Kids is located in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. www.communitykids.com.au