Choosing the Right Childcare for your Kid

Choosing childcare can be one of the hardest decisions a family faces. Determining which type of childcare provider is best for your situation is the first step in making the right choice. When looking at different types of childcare be sure to keep your family's distinct values and circumstances in mind.

What types of childcare are available to choose from?

1. Home-based care

Home-based childcare is when your child is cared for in your home. You may choose informal arrangements, as when grandparents or other relatives come to your home to watch your children. You may also choose for a more formal arrangement by employing a nanny or babysitter to provide care.

For some families, the ease of having your child at home is important. No bags to pack or meals to prepare in advance. The comfort your child experiences by staying in their own environment makes this option very attractive for some parents.

2. Centre-based care

Centre-based care happens in a childcare facility as opposed to in the home. There are many options in centre-based care:

Long day care is suitable for families that work regular weekdays and need reliable coverage.

Occasional care, for families who do not need coverage every day, but would like to have periodic opportunities to catch up on work or appointments. You can express interest by going on a waitlist, and taking slots that open up when regular attendees are absent.

Preschools and kindergartens that operate in stand-alone centres are also included in this category. Typically this option is for children ages 3-5.

Centre-based care has its advantages. It is reliable and fully staffed with early childhood teachers, so you need not worry about sick days and vacation time like you would with home-base care. Also, there is a learning programme with structure and routine, and other children to offer socialisation opportunities. Often centre-based care is a sure way to connect your child into their community; for example, in Ermington childcare centres would allow your children to make friends they will have throughout their school years.

3. Business-related crèche

Some businesses offer informal childcare in creches while parents avail themselves of that business's services. There may be a small fee for use, or the childcare may be a perk that is included in membership. These creches can be convenient when you need care only to perform a certain task, like exercise. Your child will have the opportunity to be safe and socialise with other children. But these creches do not typically offer education quality or educator-to-child ratios that promote learning the way a centre-based service would.

4. Outside school hours care

Outside school hours care is centre-based care for families who need someone to watch their children before or after school, on student-free days and during school holidays. This care is available only for primary school aged children, but could be the perfect thing to fill in the gaps between school and work schedules for many families.

5. Family day care

Family day care is when a child is cared for by an approved educator in that educator's home. Family day care offers many benefits, including a home-based environment and a quieter setting, but including other children and the opportunity for socialisation. It may also afford the opportunity to be more flexible with scheduling, such as part-day or part-week care.

With so many different types of care available, the care that is right for your family is certainly a personal choice. By focusing on your family's specific needs, such as how many hours of coverage you require, and values, such as whether an educational setting is important for getting your child off to a good start in school, you can determine which childcare is right for your family.

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