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Checklist For Finding Quality Childcare

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Checklist For Finding Quality Childcare

New Zealand has one of the best early childhood programmes in the world. Centres are regulated in order to get funding, monitored by the Education Review office and have a curriculum, Te Whaariki for guiding teaching.

“Despite this there is still a huge variety in the childcare offering available for parents. Add to this, the increase of in-home care and no wonder parents don’t know what will ensure their child is ready for school,” says Fiona Hughes Chief Operations Officer of one of NZ’s largest private childcare providers, Kidicorp, with brands such as Edukids, Kids to Five, First Steps, Early Years, Top Kids,Montessori and Community kindergartens throughout the country.

Fiona belongs to an American educational organisation that has over 90,000 members worldwide. She’s also very well known in the NZ early childhood sector and participates in discussions, reviews and new initiatives. She says it helps keep her up to date and aware of trends and issues in the early childhood sector.

When we asked Fiona how does a parent find quality childcare, she said she has a checklist of tips for parents when visiting a centre for the first time.

1. A centre with a good programme will always be happy for a parent to visit, stay a while and get a feel for the environment.

2. Parents should ask about and observe the group sizes and number of teachers in each classroom.
“Our centres have at least one teacher to 4 babies and 1 teacher to 8 toddlers. The Government minimums are 1 to 5 and 1 to 10. Often we have more teachers than this to help prepare the programme and to complete children’s individual portfolios."

3. Look to see if the play, including dramatic play and blocks and active play outdoors, is integrated into classroom topics of study. For example, are things like doors and objects labeled – this is an example of incorporating literacy into every day life so children begin to grasp words have meaning and become familiar with letters. Play not only supports children’s intellectual development; it is also very important for the physical development of children.

4. Does the programme promote health and nutrition? Many Kidicorp centres have gardens where children grow vegetables so children children learn about healthy food. Many centres also have the Heart Foundations’ Healthy Heart tick for food served at the centre.

5. Are the children in the programme engaged with one another and their teachers? Listen and watch for a happy buzz of activity—neither too quiet nor too loud.

6. Do the teachers should use positive speech and are they loving and responsive to a child.

7. Are the teaching staff qualified? Research shows that teachers with qualifications make better teachers.

8. Ask about teacher turnover. High quality centres have well compensated and well trained staff who enjoy their work.

9. Does the centre have a strong connection with parents and the community. This is important so you share information on your child.

10. Finally, if you have answered positively to the questions above, what does the centre make you feel like? Do you want to stay! If it feels cosy, fun and a hive of activity your child will get the preparation for life long learning.

“Qualified teachers know how to stimulate and encourage children and develop their learning potential. Look at the walls do they show a busy and interesting place full of learning? Great teachers can turn the most ordinary things into wonderful learning experiences. These chances will improve your child’s cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development,” ended Fiona.

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