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I remember reading somewhere once, that 90% of a child’s brain develops by the time they’re 5 years old? One of the many interesting facts I learned when I was pregnant with Ari, and reading anything and everything baby related. Like most expecting and new mums, I used to read a lot and coupled with things I learnt while studying to become a teacher, I understood the importance of early childhood education (whether a child is being taken care of at home or at child care). The one year I was on my maternity leave, I spent so much time doing activities, like playing peek-a-boo, reading, sensory play, etc. to encourage Ari’s learning and development. He has always been a sponge with such a thirst for knowledge. I returned to work and we were lucky enough to have grandparents available to look after him but in the blink of an eye I needed to enrol him into 4-year-old kinder.

Honestly, being a first-time mum, I was nervous about leaving my child in the care of someone I didn’t know very well.  I spoke to my friends with children in child care, neighbours, searched on the internet, and I must say that the amount of information out there was overwhelming.

I’m sharing this for other new mums to have a read and have a little more information than I had when I was looking for care for Ari. When looking for child care, our child’s health and safety is of prime importance. Isn’t it? There are so many other factors to consider. Well, the National Quality Standard (NQS) system that is in place has made it simpler for families like us to ensure we choose a quality child care service for our little ones.

All the early childhood education and care services (long day care, family day care, preschool/kindergarten and outside school hours care) in Australia are assessed and rated by our state/territory governments against the seven quality areas of the National Quality Standard (NQS). Some of the quality areas that are particularly important for me as a mum are: Children’s health and safety, Relationships with children, Collaborative partnerships with families and communities and Educational program and practice.

The NQS quality standards ensure services offer our children the best opportunities to learn and develop in their early years and improve their outcomes in later lives. But where can you find these NQS quality ratings? StartingBlocks.gov.au, a free government website, is the ANSWER! It has all the TRUSTED information you need on early childhood education and childcare – all in one place. 

We chose to skip 3 year old kinder and go straight into 4 year old.

Some of their articles I found most helpful were:

  • Choosing a service – whether it’s family day care, long daycare, preschool/kindergarten, you need to decide which one suits your child and family’s needs best. Trust me, it’s a good idea to start thinking about your options early because you want to ensure you’ve chosen the best one. It’s also important to visit the child care to meet the educators and see the facilities. Being a parent, I would advise you to trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to ask questions.
  • Child care ratings – you will find a list of the seven NQS quality areas against which all the services are assessed and rated by the government. This information sheet also lists the five quality ratings – Significant Improvement Required, Working Towards NQS, Meeting NQS, Exceeding NQS and Excellent.
  • Preparing for child care – when is the best time to start childcare depends on what your family needs. Most of the services have a waitlist so it may be best to put your child’s name on more than one list. This information sheet has information on the enrolment processes, orientation, and transition – all things you might want to know.

StartingBlocks.gov.au also helps you track your child’s development and offers resources for stay at home mums /parents, including, activities to do at home, reading with little ones and encouraging good screen practices for your child – all things that are essential to your little one’s early learning.

My kinder boy

We can only do our best, as new mums we are dealing with information overload. Thankfully, I had a few friends with children of the same age and I could ride on their highly researched coat tails or I would never have known about cut off dates for enrolments, websites like StartingBlocks.gov.au and good child care services local to us. We would have probably missed out and maybe one day on his 15th birthday I would have turned to my husband and said “Hey, do you think he should be in school by now? Did we not do something?”

Head to StartingBlocks.gov.au and have a little browse. It’s never too early to start educating yourself on what the next step for your child’s learning is and what information you should be looking at. Feel free to share the article in your mothers group or tag friends so they can read too. Surely I’m not the only one that had no idea where to start looking. And now I can’t thank https://www.startingblocks.gov.au enough!

© 2018 Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority

Thanks for reading. – Zoe xoxo

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