To help you choose the right kinder for your child here are our 6 top tips for you to consider.
1 Understand what is best for your child and familyYou must take into consideration your family’s routine and your child’s development.
Working families in particular might need a kindergarten that is close to home and open until 6pm to meet the logistics of your day-to-day.
Your child should also have access to qualified early childhood teachers who plan for each individual child, and if your child is 3 you’ll need to find a location and a kinder program that will suit your family for two years.
Two years of kinder at the same location will enable you to develop a routine and stronger relationships with your kinder community.
2 Do your researchWhen it comes to researching kindergarten providers in your area, families should look for information from a variety of sources before putting together a short list.
Friends and family are an important source of information, because they’ll give you their first-hand impressions and experiences, and they’ll also be able to help introduce you to the centre team. Online sources like the kindergarten’s website and their social media pages can also offer a great insight into their day-to-day practices, and you can also read online reviews.
It’s important that if you have any questions, you call or email the centres you’re interested in and have a chat before you book in for a tour.
3 Visit the centreThe best way to learn about a kindergarten is to visit, as you’ll get a good sense of how the centre operates and you’ll have a chance to ask more questions.
Book a tour with the centres you are considering and they will be happy to show you around, and introduce you to some of the teachers and educators.
To get the most of your tour, make sure you observe and ask about:
· safety procedures, especially ones relevant to your child such as food allergies
· how the teachers and educators work together and relate to the children
· if the children seem to be enjoying themselves
· if the children are focused on a range of activities
· are the children playing with one another
· what resources the children have access to, and
· the teaching style.
4 Ensure that the program is high quality and will bring out the best in your childGood kindergartens prepare children for school … GREAT kindergartens also prepare children for a life-long journey of learning.
So when you’re considering which kindergarten is best for your child, families should also research how the kindergarten integrates learning and development into their programming.
We know that children who start behind tend to stay behind, and quality learning experiences in the early years can have a big impact on life-long outcomes for children.
You should ask how the kindergarten will support your child’s social and emotional development, and how they encourage them to develop early literacy and numeracy skills. This development is not only necessary for the transition to school, but they are also skills that set children up for life
5 Find out about extra inclusionsKindergartens may offer inclusions that support your child’s development, while some centres offer extras to help make family life a little easier to manage day-to-day.
During your tour of each centre, ask what learning and extra-curricular activities are on offer as part of their programs. Many centres will offer excursions and incursions, and blended learning options so children have opportunity to learn in-centre or online.
Some kinders will also provide meals, nappies and sunscreen, along with parent-teacher meetings and graduations celebrating the important milestone of children transitioning to school.
6 Understand the centres policiesAll kindergartens should have information about their operations, policies and procedures readily available.
If your child needs extra support or they have medical issues like allergies, for example, you should ask to see the relevant information.”
This information can include:
- Health and safety guidelines
- Education and activity programs
- Social inclusion performance
- Contact details of the person in charge
- Fee details, including information regarding absenteeism
- Complaints process, and
- Staff qualifications.
7 Learn what funding means for your centre and what it means for youThe Victorian Government provides funding directly to kindergartens. This funding is used to provide high-quality learning. Delivered through engaging learning experiences (including resources, environments, inclusions and exclusions) and your child’s Bachelor qualified Teacher. This helps to ensure that all Victorian children get the best start in life.
From 2023, the Victorian Government is making kindergarten programs free for three and four-year-old children – saving you up to $2,000 per year for each year of a kindergarten program your child attends in an integrated long day care setting.
(Article updated 24 Oct 2022)