Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The great childcare hunt. Already.

I've been told that it pays to get in early when it comes to finding childcare, so I've started my search already. Despite the fact that I won't be needing it until next January at the earliest, I've already made up a tentative list of places near work or home, and I visited the first one this afternoon.

I really don't know what to expect from a childcare centre, or what kind of criteria to use when deciding on the merits of this place I visited, unannounced. It was smallish, but packed with toys, kiddie furniture and crafty stuff. All the staff had qualifications of one sort or another, in early childhood learning; the woman who gave me the tour said she had six grown-up offspring of her own, so she's obviously had a lot of practice.

Allergies and health-specific instructions are noted each time a child arrives, and I noticed on the whiteboard in the toilets that if a child needs all-over moisturising after each nappy change then it's all there for the staff to see. It's also five minutes walk from my house and, importantly, the daily fee is less than my daily earnings.

It's also kind of noisy - not the kind of place I myself would be happy to spend all day in - but then if I were a little child this might be exactly the kind of place I'd want to spend all day in. Kids seem to love expressing themselves at top volume, and the under 2s have a little noise-proof room to nap in.

One thing I really liked about the place was that each child has a scrapbook in which the staff record what the child's been up to - milestones are noted and photos and arwork are pasted in. I can imagine that would be bloody useful for parents who work full-time and would otherwise miss so much of their child's development.

I've already put my name on the waiting list (and yes, there already is one), but in the next few weeks I'll be visiting some more places just for comparison (in case there is such a thing as a childcare centre with sweet-smelling toilets, tons of room and low noise levels).

Anyone got pearls of wisdom to add?


Wicked said...

Hi Violet, Alison here - hope all is going well.
Just a tip re childcare... spend a fair amount of time at one place - not looking at the equipment, facilities, etc, but at the children themselves. Are the toddlers aggressive? Or relatively calm? Do all the babies cry a lot, or do they seem settled? May seem inaccurate to base decisions on this, but I found when I had the foster-kids in care, the way the children not only interacted with each other, but how they seemed in themselves spoke volumes of the type of care they were receiving... the girls' respective confrontational and avoidant behaviours began to settle down very quickly and they never wanted to leave daycare!

hazel said...

no advice here, i have no experience with this, but kudos to you for getting started with the search. was the waiting list long?
those scrapbooks sound wonderful.

Violet said...

Wicked: thanks for the advice. From memory, the kids there seemed pretty happy; most of the over 2s had been attending since they were under 2s so they all knew each other well. They were a darned noisy bunch, but that's probably a good thing!

hazel: nah, there were maybe a dozen names on the list and some of them will disappear as they change their minds and go somewhere else.

Make Tea Not War said...

You might already have found this but the Ministry of Education website has reviews of various childcare facilities somewhere on it- which I found quite helpful when I was comparison shopping