Finding suitable childcare providers can be a real challenge. It is crucial that you put in the work to find the best possible place for your kids, no matter their age. There are a lot of steps to take when narrowing down your options. You should consider the quality of the provider, their location and your children’s needs.
This article will explore some of the best ways to find a suitable childcare provider and how you can ensure your kids will be happy and healthy there.
Visit A Provider First
It’s always best to visit a provider in person. During your visit, you can get a feel for the facilities and watch staff interact with the kids. For very young children, you should look for staff interacting with kids on their level or holding babies and toddlers on their laps. Human touch and connection are crucial to the proper development of social skills. For children under two, there should be at least one staff member per three children.
Draw Up A Short List
Once you have visited several providers, you can create a shortlist of your favourites. It can be beneficial to get your kids’ input at this stage. Narrow down your selection based on staffing ratios, cleanliness, the childcare approaches offered and Ofsted ratings.
Once you have your shortlist, you can do some more in-depth research on the provider. You could look for online reviews of the facility and go back for another visit. You could also consider arranging a taster day for your kids to see if they like the provider.
Ask People For Recommendations
Asking friends, family and colleagues for their recommendations can be invaluable. Ask them as many questions as possible about their experience with a childcare provider and how their kids enjoyed the setting. You could also request to talk to their children yourself to get a first-hand account of the provider.
Know Your Catchment Zone For Older Kids
As your children reach the age of primary and secondary education, it is a good idea to know the various options for schools in your catchment zone. It is best to consider the options for after school care each place provides. If you are concerned about the lack of choice or quality in your local catchment zone, it may be beneficial to consider a move to an area with more suitable schools.
Consider The Curiosity Approach
The approach that a childcare provider takes to children’s learning can make all the difference. This is particularly important in an early years setting. A relatively new but hugely successful approach is the Curiosity Approach.
The Curiosity Approach is based on letting children engage with their surroundings and foster their natural curiosity. It also focuses on surrounding kids with natural materials and everyday objects to help them gain a better understanding of the wider world. Rainbow Smiles explain the approach here in their excellent guide.
Ensure They Have Excellent Experience
Choosing a provider with extensive experience with children of various ages, abilities, and needs is crucial. You should consider your children’s needs when making your choice, particularly if they have any special educational needs. You can find out about the level of experience a childcare provider has by asking them questions when you visit or asking for their work history and CV for individuals.
Take Cost Into Consideration
It is a good idea to consider how much a childcare provider will charge. While quality must always come first, it is still wise to get an idea of the typical charge you can expect. You should be aware that if you need childcare during evenings and weekends, this may come at an extra cost.
Ask For References
All reputable childcare providers will be happy to provide you with references. You will often find testimonials and reviews on a provider’s website, and you could check review aggregators like Google and Yelp. You can also ask the childcare facility to provide you with the contact details of other parents so that you can ask them questions yourself.
Check Their Ofsted Rating
You should always check a provider’s Ofsted (the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills) rating before you make your choice. It is best to choose a provider that has achieved a good or outstanding rating.
Talk To Your Kids
Talking to your children about the different options for childcare is crucial. While the final decision should always be yours, asking their opinion can be beneficial to ensure that your kids will be happy with the childcare provider you choose. Talk to them about their experience after an open or taster day, and let them know it is okay to be completely honest about any worries they might have. Choosing a childcare provider with input from your children can also ensure that their first experiences in an educational setting are positive.
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