Sending your little one to an early learning centre for the first time conjures many emotions. Among the excitement comes a level of apprehension, particularly if you are soon to leave your child in daycare for the very first time.
You will have many questions – like what will your child do all day and how are they cared for? What do they eat and when? Most of all, how do you keep my child safe?
At Kids Club, our team follows rigid procedures to protect each child in our care, whether they are eating, sleeping, learning or playing – and always adhering to the National Quality Standards (NQS). We can also appreciate how new parents want to see for themselves how we run our early learning centres, and taking a tour is the first step in this process.
Of course, as you wander through a Kids Club centre, there is a lot to take in, and you may forget to ask some of your burning questions. Our Parent Tour Checklist is designed to help you on your tour – and today, we’re discussing what this is and how it can support you when considering a childcare centre for your child.
What is the Purpose of a Parent Tour Checklist?
Put simply, a parent tour checklist is a comprehensive list of all the critical elements you should look for in a daycare environment.
The Kids Club Parent Tour Checklist provides insight into the extensive steps taken to permit optimum safety and care within each of our children’s childcare settings, day in and day out. Structured around the Government’s National Quality Standards (NQS), it ensures our daycare provision meets the stringent goals set for our industry, focusing on education, health and safety, the facilities environments, and staffing arrangements.
While designed to guide you as you tour a Kids Club Early Learning Centre, it can be used as a checklist when touring other centres.
The Seven Quality Areas of the NQS and How to Evaluate Them During Your Parent Tour
Quality Area 1: Educational Program And Practice
The first NQS quality area is an extremely important one and considers the educational offer from your childcare provider.
A vital component of childcare services is the early years learning process. Children do most of their critical cognitive learning before they turn 5 and require a structured process to make the most of this development period. Many early years education comes from learning through play, and the need to provide structured and engaging learning environments make these years critical to aid and guide children to explore, discover and create as they adopt many life fundamentals.
A childcare centre needs to show its capabilities in this area – that’s a clear and demonstrable program for learning and a process for sharing information about a child’s
progress as they learn. Some may use technology to deliver feedback about progress to parents; others will use traditional paper and pen methods to record progress. Either way, the ability to have access to a child’s learning journey and progress is fundamental.
Quality Area 2: Children’s Health and Safety
The second NQS quality area looks into the safety of each child during their time in care.
This is a broad subject made up of several elements. First comes the provision of food and drinks, and the centre’s approach to nutrition. Are the meals cooked on-site by a qualified chef or brought in by a third-party provider? How does the centre deal with allergies and dietary requirements? All these things can (and should) have a bearing on your decision about where your child spends their time.
Next, illnesses. Unfortunately, childcare centres can be a hotbed for illnesses while little bodies are building immunity. Understanding how the centre deals with infectious illnesses, outbreaks and accidents is essential. Ask to see their Sickness and Illness Policy to demonstrate their procedure and commitment to dealing with ill health.
Finally, assess the overall security measures in place at the facility. Many centres like Kids Club, use technology for an efficient sign-in/out process to know who is onsite. Security features upon entry are also effective for safety, and add an additional measure for Toddlers and Preschoolers who walk independently to and from the service. At Kids Club we have installed biometric security technology to help maintain a controlled environment and prevent unauthorised individuals from entering and encourage you to ask questions around a centre’s security features and security protocols too.
Quality Area 3: Physical Environment
The third NQS quality area considers the physical environment – and at a childcare facility, that means inside and outside!
The overall presentation of a centre is the first thing you will pick up on from the moment you step through the door. There may be a designated reception area where you can check-in and where you will focus on the space in front of you – is it calm, clean, and tidy? Facilities should aim to create an inviting and organised environment that immediately
makes you and your child feel welcome. Play spaces, both indoor and outdoor, are designed to envelop children in an atmosphere of warmth and comfort, where every detail serves to deliver an invitation for little ones to let their imagination soar, and encouraging them to explore.
How spacious is the centre you’re assessing? Indoor play areas require adequate space per child for free, safe movement to encourage expression; for example, in New South Wales, 3.25m2 per child. This personal space helps to create a positive environment, minimising aggression between children, which, in turn, can reduce behavioural issues – and a deeper connection between the child and their carer.
Outdoors, childcare centres must provide an environment for children to feel inspired, move freely and express themselves. Having a central piece of equipment based around a theme can work wonders here. Think a boat, a car or a treehouse – something where imaginations can run wild! Since many children are said to learn better when in a natural environment, it’s good to keep outdoor play areas as natural as possible – grass, garden vegetation, sand and water are ideal for stimulative, nature-based play. Climbing equipment and wheeled toys such as a ride-on also provide new experiences your child will love to try.
Critical to Australia and our wonderful warm climate is that any outdoor play area must include a shaded area. Whether it’s a soft canopy or permanent structural roofing, ensure the centre has a shaded area to help limit your child’s sun exposure.
Quality Area 4: Staffing Arrangements
The fourth NQS quality area focuses on the childcare centre workers, their experience and industry progression.
In Australia, there are strict rules in place to ensure childcare centres have adequate staff to provide a high-quality service. Each age group has specific Educator-to-child ratios to follow, and all daycare centres must do so.
Example: NSW Educator-to-child ratios
- Birth to 24 months – 1:4
- 24 to 36 months – 1:5
- 36 months to preschool – 1:10
- Over preschool age – 1:15
But there is more to staffing than quantity – equally important is the quality of care Educators can provide to your child. All early years Educators should be qualified and experienced to perform their role well and ensure optimum care to the children. Ask the facility you are visiting about their staff qualification and recruitment process; all Educators should hold a Certificate III in Early Childhood Education and Care as a minimum or working towards one.
Looking after children in the early years is both a demanding and highly rewarding role. Of course, staff will always work to their best ability when they feel valued, which comes from management. Regular feedback and training effectively keep teams working at their best. A professional development plan for each staff member helps keep them up to date on new sector procedures or well-placed for career progression. Don’t be afraid to ask a centre leader what procedures are in place to support their staff’s development.
Quality Area 5: Relationships With Children
The fifth NQS quality area looks at the relationship between Educator and child.
The overall responsibility of the centre staff is to apply a balanced approach, caring for each child so that they remain safe while encouraging their independence and creativity through imaginative and physical play.
Childcare workers play an essential role in educating the children, teaching them necessary life skills like how to feed themselves and use the bathroom, plus academic skills as they grow older – such as basic letter and number recognition for preschool children. The ability to nurture and build trust are essential to forging a strong relationship where the child benefits.
When visiting a centre, watch how the Educators connect with a child. Do they use their name and give them their full attention? Do they speak clearly and repeat words to the child to confirm when they have spoken new words correctly? Look for positive interactions between the Educator and child, and signs of encouragement and trust. The last thing you want to see is a room filled with agitated children!
Quality Area 6: Collaborative Partnerships With Families And Communities
The sixth NQS quality area evaluates how a centre interacts with families and the community.
Parents need guidance when enrolling a child with an early learning centre, particularly when it’s their first to embark on this journey. Having a clear and straightforward enrolment process makes a huge difference, ensuring parents understand how the facility operates, their obligations, and the lay of the land. Offering an orientation service should come as part of this process.
Some centres provide other early years services to families asides from childcare – almost like a one-stop-shop approach to make life easier for working parents. This can include vital healthcare services – eye, speech and dental screening, for example – often delivered by local specialists. There may be other social activities on offer outside of core hours, too. Checking what is available asides from childcare, and the centre’s involvement in any community events, can help you decide if it’s a suitable environment for your child and family.
Quality Area 7: Governance And Leadership
The seventh and final NQS quality area ties into the centre’s governance and leadership structure.
Crucial for parents considering full-time daycare is the cost. When the fees are explained to you, make sure you see a breakdown of all that’s included and any discounts available (for example, for additional siblings). You can also ask to see documented policies and procedures, which should be clear and open to parents. At the very least, ask where you can view these documents should you ever wish to.
Perhaps most fundamental of all is the centre philosophy. What is the vision for leaders, and is it practised through their policies, procedures and daily structure? Every family has values and beliefs – you want to be sure the place your child will visit each day abides by similar values, growing up in an environment that mirrors what you practice at home.
The Benefits of Using a Parent Tour Checklist Based on the NQS
It’s clear there is much to consider when you are assessing an early years facility for the first time. That’s why we created our childcare checklist – to help busy working parents see the wood for the trees and make one of the most important decisions ever for their child!
By using our daycare checklist while visiting us, you will:
- Evaluate the facility in every aspect, in-depth – with no stone left unturned
- See our approach to quality in line with stringent industry standards
- Cover all aspects of the centre’s provision – education, health and safety, and staffing
- Understand in full how your child will spend their days and who they will interact with
- Ensure you haven’t forgotten to ask ANYTHING when visiting the centre!
Come and Visit a Kids Club Centre!
As standard practice, we invite all parents considering sending a child to a Kids Club centre to take a physical tour, so you can see the environment first-hand – and, more importantly, learn all how our caring team operates to make each day a safe one your child (and you) will love!
Our handy Parent Tour Checklist supports you during the tour, helping you understand more about Kids Club and being prompt to ask as many questions as possible when you visit.
So, download the Kids Club Parent Tour Checklist and arrange your visit today. We can’t wait to meet you!
If you want to learn more, call Kids Club Early Childhood Learning Centres or book a tour now of your closest Kids Club Early Learning Centre, click here to view your closest Centre.
As the leading provider of early childhood care in Australia we always put your child first. We are committed to 7 National Quality Standards.