As a parent, you may have questions to consider while deciding whether or not to stay at home or send your child to childcare. The choice is yours, but we understand that this decision is a major one.
For many parents, staying home to care for their children isn’t financially viable. Ever-rising prices and giving your child the best possible life often mean that going back to work is necessary, not a choice. In these circumstances, early childhood care is a great solution. When parents are more financially stable and can afford to stay at home, they may feel there is little value in considering childcare, as they are at home anyway to take care of their children.
However, the reality is that some forms of early childhood education can have significant advantages for both parents and children.
To help parents struggling to decide whether to incorporate daycare and early childhood learning into their schedule, we’ve gathered the essential information you need to know when considering this important topic.
Not all childcare is equal
A major study by the Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) concluded that there were no significant differences in outcomes between children primarily cared for at home or those who attended daycare. However, children in high-quality child care centres had better results when compared with those in poorer quality settings.
What is the key message of this research? If there is a high calibre quality of care at home, sending a preschool child (two or older) to daycare centres doesn’t have markedly different outcomes compared to caring for them at home.
Positive staff attitudes and good communication are vital
Whether your child is cared for at home or in daycare centres, consistent contact with the same adult or adults is vital so that they can form healthy attachments. If you opt for daycare, choose one that has a low staff turnover. It’s worth observing how daycare centres interact with the children there. Staff should be empathetic, attentive, and communicative to give your child the stimulation and positive feedback they need to thrive. Whether this type of interaction is provided at home or in a daycare centre, it’s just what children need to develop and grow appropriately.
Although most parents are extremely good at “childproofing” their homes, private property isn’t purposefully built to house eager adventurers. One of the advantages of a good daycare or preschool setting is that it’s specifically designed with the needs of young people in mind!
Safety features such as out-of-reach windows, doors which don’t slam shut, and areas with suitable flooring all help to reduce the risk of an accident. Toddler-sized furniture, accessible toilets and hand basins, and zero access to high-risk areas (such as kitchens) all help to ensure your little one can move about freely and safely. In contrast, every home has “danger zones” where intensive supervision is required to minimise the risk of your child getting hurt. Luckily, child care centres here are subject to strict standards so that you can be sure about your child’s safety.
When it comes to suitable activities, variety is the key! Children develop best when they are allowed to pursue a wide range of different pastimes, enabling them to learn through free play and guided learning. A well-equipped daycare centre with a varied programme can often provide a far more stimulating schedule of daily activities than mum can at home. Daycares can facilitate messy play such as painting easily, crafting, play dough and water play – all activities are time-consuming to clean up at home.
Daycare centres also offer a comprehensive selection of indoor and outdoor play equipment; often, they can invest in sophisticated, high-grade play options beyond most parents’ budgets. Well-designed programs will favour playing aligned with fine and gross motricity, literacy, and numeracy from a young age.
Education – preparing for school
Child care centres are also excellent for readying children for school, known as early childhood learning. A successful educational start relies not just on educational readiness (such as being able to recognise numbers and letters, being able to write their name and familiarity with basic words and calculations, etc.), but also involves mastering several different life skills and getting through the day without a parent close at hand.
A good daycare centre will run some sort of School Readiness Programme, providing a structured, comprehensive range of activities and targets that your child can work towards. Completion of this programme can have an enormously positive impact on a child’s coping mechanisms with the demands of school. Finding the time at home to implement a similar programme can be incredibly time-consuming; some parents may also not be aware of current school requirements, which may mean the acquisition of valuable skills will be limited.
Attention during the day
Stay-at-home mums are busy! There are always large numbers of chores to attend to besides the basic care every child requires. This can leave a limited amount of time to undertake specific activities, play and learning, with the child sometimes needing to “tag along” with whatever activity needs to be done. In comparison, daycare centres are completely devoted to the needs of the child. Staff are ready to perform everyday tasks to keep your child healthy and happy while also providing learning opportunities, varied activities, and emotional support your child needs to thrive.
If you particularly worry that you and your child aren’t spending enough “quality time” together, a combination of daycare and care at home can work really well – daycare centres provide the best of both worlds: mums have the opportunity get all those essential jobs done quickly, freeing them up to focus on their children. At the same time, children are able to enjoy a wide range of exciting pastimes in a safe, caring setting – a great win-win solution.
Obviously, every child is different, and what suits one may not suit another. Daycare offers a number of key advantages for both parent and child, although no one’s better than mum while you’re still young! Ultimately, there is no “one size fits all” answer to childcare, but it’s always good to know that with the right, high-grade provisions, your child is likely to thrive.
Enrol your Child in the Best Childcare Centres
As a parent, we understand that you may have questions to consider while deciding whether or not to stay at home or send your child to childcare. Ultimately, the choice is yours, but we have created this article to provide some helpful information and advice for either option.
If you choose to send your child to a childcare centre, finding the right childcare centre is also an important decision that needs a lot of thought and consultation. There are numerous factors to be considered, such as the centre’s location, age cut-offs, hours of operation, staff-to-children ratios, services, curriculum and activities available at the centre, to name a few.