Three things I value in early learning: a dad’s perspective
Author: Andrew Hancox, parent at Goodstart Wavell Heights
When my eldest children were young, using childcare wasn’t as common as it is now.
But times have changed and that was half a generation ago, and now as an older second-time dad I’m firmly in the camp with other families for whom childcare is a near universal need.
Having had the experience of raising three girls with a stay-at-home parent in the mid-2000s, I was a little apprehensive when it came to finding a centre for my then one-year-old Indie.
She’s now nearly three and is thriving at Goodstart Wavell Heights
. Here’s what I’ve learned to look for and value in that that time.
The right centre will feel right
As a parent, you’re almost looking for a red flag when you’re doing a tour of a centre or going through the enrolment process. It’s a natural protective instinct of every parent and while you need to keep parental fears balanced, I’m a big believer in following your gut feeling on these sorts of things.
When we enrolled Indie at Wavell Heights, it just felt right. The things that made a difference for me were:
- The children in the centre were happy, and so were the staff.
- We were never left wondering. From our first contact with the centre through to the enrolment process and Indie’s first day, everything was organised and professional.
- All my questions were answered. While you’re trying to take in a lot of information and it doesn’t all stick, it was clear the staff were competent and had a plan for all children.
You might still have some ups and downs while your child settles in, like we did with Indie, but if you’re in the right centre it will work out well over time.
There’s a huge difference between early learning and babysitting
This one really stands out for me. Wavell Heights is Indie’s second centre, and being able to compare this experience with that of her first centre has shown me the huge difference between ‘old school’ childcare and modern early learning.
At Indie’s first centre I felt confident she would be safe and well cared for, but outside of that I didn’t get the impression that her development and learning was really on the agenda.
But now in her current centre I can see what early learning is all about, and it’s huge. The brain development going on in young children is amazing and they are ripe for learning.
So much of what we rely on in our adult life has its foundations in these early years and you want to make sure they are being nurtured and developed by professional staff during this time.
Communication from the centre is everything
Before Indie started in care, I took three and a half months of parental leave from work. It was the most amazing time, getting to know my little girl and forming bonds that will last through the ups and downs of our lives together.
Another thing this time together did for me was strengthen my paternal instinct and desire to know more about how she’s developing and how I could help.
Knowing what’s happened during the day in her centre and what skills she’s been developing keeps me connected to her even though I’m not physically there, and it also gives me some great pointers to build on when we’re playing or spending time together.
Our centre uses the StoryPark
app which keeps us updated with posts, photos and videos. It’s a great tool for keeping parents informed, but communication is a two-way street and I really encourage dads to ask questions about their child’s progress and stay connected with them as they grow and develop.