Finding the right care for your child is one of the most important and emotionally exhaustive experiences that a parent or guardian can endure. Therefore, when preparing to leave your child with a carer (educator), it is paramount that this person bonds well with your child listens to your needs as a parent, gives you peace of mind when leaving your child, and ultimately, provides your child with the very best care that can be offered.
According to the Family Day Care Australia survey, families often choose family daycare for its unique natural home environment and small group settings. They also find that close bonds and one-to-one attention to their kids lead to an appealing child care environment.
Family daycare is the perfect solution for parents and carers looking for a safe, welcoming, and affordable environment for their child – while being adaptable to their work environment.
How is it similar to centre-based child care?
- Family daycare provides early childhood education and care services for children across Australia.
- Family day care operates under the same National Quality Framework (NQF) as other forms of childcare, incorporating national regulations, quality and qualification standards, educational frameworks and an assessment and ratings process.
- Parents are eligible for the same Child Care Benefits.
How is it different from other forms of child care?
- Your child's education and care are provided by an individual educator, an approved early childhood education and care professional, operating within their own home.
- Educators work with small groups of no more than four children under school age.*
- Educators work in partnership with a local coordination unit that provides regular visits to monitor the children's progress and provide support.
- An educator may care for a maximum of 7 children, including their own, with a maximum of 4 under the age of 4 at any one time.
Children benefit from Family Day Care through:
- Developing a close relationship with one consistent Educator
- Opportunities to learn through play-based exploration in a small group in a home environment
- Socialising with mixed age groups in family settings
- Opportunities to be an active participant in making decisions and planning for learning experiences
- Participating in activities provided to suit the child's individual needs – such as singing, storytelling, make-believe, play, creative experiences and inquiry-based projects
- Providing a connection with their local community by way of outings which may include visits to the library, parks and shops
- Opportunities to engage within a larger group of children through regular supervised playgroup sessions and visiting other Educator's environments.
- Learning about tolerance and acceptance of families and children with different cultures, lifestyles and needs
- Families working in partnerships with Educators and Coordinators to ensure children's cultural background, interests and strengths are celebrated, shared and enhanced.
- Spending their time with a qualified and skilled educator able to scaffold and build onto the child's existing knowledge and skills
The Advantages of a Quality Family Home Daycare
In a society where most mothers and fathers are working outside the home, the need for quality childcare is growing rapidly. All parents want only the best for their children, especially when it comes to child care. Since it is now being acknowledged that the first five years of a child's life are the most important of their formative years, parents of young children are discovering that a family home daycare can provide the individualised attention that children of this age need.
Just what is a family home daycare? In short, it is childcare that is offered in the provider's own home. This arrangement has been around as long as parents have had neighbours and friends nearby to help care for their children. Today it's a way for many people who truly enjoy taking care of young children to do the work they love. Some may assume that this is just babysitting. However, a quality family home daycare is so much more than that. A quality home daycare strives to excel beyond basic licensing requirements. Quality childcare providers are entrepreneurs who take pride in their small businesses and continually challenge themselves to remain at the leading edge of the childcare profession.
A home daycare often appeals to parents who want to keep their child in a warm, caring, homelike environment. They prefer to relate to a single caregiver and believe that children are healthier, happier, and more secure in a smaller group setting. A home atmosphere fosters an overall feeling of satisfaction, contentment, and security. A homelike environment is comforting and reassuring for children. Homes are comfy, never cafeteria-style or institutional-feeling. In a quality home daycare, children get nurtured the way they should be and deserve.
One of the major benefits a home daycare can offer parents and their children is a small group due to the low child-to-adult ratio that each home daycare must legally adhere to. A smaller group means your child is more likely to get the one-on-one interaction they need and deserve. In addition, small groups are less stressful for children. In them, children can foster closer social bonds and get closer attention. This nurturing, individualised attention contributes significantly to a child's social and emotional growth. Furthermore, any parent of a young child knows that the fewer people their child is exposed to, the less likely they are to become ill.
Another potential advantage of a family home daycare is the mixed-age group of children that the provider cares for. Because of this, siblings can be cared for together, and children have the opportunity to interact and socialise with children in the same and other age groups. In addition, these mixed-age groups more closely mirror most families and different real-life situations. Therefore, they can help your child learn to feel more comfortable around older and younger children.
Another inherent advantage that a home daycare can offer children and parents alike is continuity. No other childcare arrangement can match the consistency of care that a quality family home daycare can provide. The same person cares for the children all day and can share complete information with the parent. The parent-provider relationship is often individualised and close. Children have a single, consistent caregiver (sometimes two), promoting a sense of safety and security; helping to foster a close and trusting relationship between child and provider. Parents can rest assured that their child can go from infancy to kindergarten with the same childcare provider. Bottom line, a quality family home daycare can be a wonderful asset for parents striving to raise healthy, happy, and self-confident children.
What's the difference between family daycare and long daycare in a child care centre?
The most obvious difference is size.
Child care centres are usually much bigger and busier, with children usually grouped according to age. There are various educator-to-child ratios for each age group, and they may be different depending on your state.
Like family daycare, child care centre staff must qualify for early childhood education and care. The qualifications required will depend on their roles and responsibilities.
Routines at long daycare centres are usually tailored to the needs of each child, especially for very young children. Still, they may move to ways more based around a group dynamic as the child gets older (for example, having lunchtime at the same time).
How to choose a family daycare provider that's right for you
If you're interested in family daycare, start by finding out which registered providers are near you. Then, you can organise a visit to the educator's home.
When judging the quality of the care and educational program, it helps to ask yourself:
- is the care child-focused or time-focused? (For example, are nap times tailored to each child or grouped at the same time of day?)
- how many children does the educator have each day, and what are their ages?
- what learning experiences are available for the children each day, and will this suit my child?
- do the children attend a playgroup during the week? For some parents, this represents bonus social interaction opportunities, but it's not a priority for others.
- are meals provided, and if so, how is the menu determined?
- how does the educator manage the supervision of children indoors and outdoors?
- are there other people in the home when family daycare is provided, and how do you feel about that?
- what ratings did the family daycare service achieve under the National Quality Standards (more on that in a minute)?
- does the cost suit your budget?
Family daycare services are part-funded by the Australian government, and the costs vary across services and family income.
What Age Benefits From Daycare?
From social skills to cognitive growth, there is a lot for new parents to learn about their child's growth and development.
Naturally, many parents are equally curious, excited, and unsure about what a daycare should provide for their child developmentally.
Here's a brief breakdown of the daycare benefits for children at each developmental stage:
Why is daycare good for babies? The growth and development that occurs in the first few years of your baby's life are significant. From ages 0 to 2 months, your baby is setting the foundation for their sense of security and safety. Daycare will offer plenty of opportunities to support this growth.
Why is daycare good for toddlers? By the time your baby is a toddler, their social skills have skyrocketed, and they are actively seeking new experiences. With love for play, your child's daycare should provide an engaging environment with stimulating activities, such as sing-alongs, arts and crafts, and imaginative play.
Why is daycare good for kids? A high-quality daycare program will offer fun and engaging experiences that support your child's development of critical social skills. In addition, some facilities will begin to incorporate school-readiness programs and academics into their curriculum for older kids.
What do Children do at Daycare?
Overall, daycare will provide a safe and nurturing environment with various engaging activities designed to support each child's developmental needs.
Activities may include:
- Music & movement
- Baby signs
- Attentive talking
- Q&A time
- Rocking & cuddling
- Arts & crafts
- Imaginative play
- Potty training
- Learning Spanish
Benefits of Daycare for Both Children and Parents
Socialization & Interaction
Your child's experience at daycare provides an invaluable opportunity for them to develop their budding social skills as they interact with others.
One of the biggest advantages of daycare is your child's ability to build relationships with other children in a supervised environment. In addition, qualified teachers are trained to support and model prosocial behaviour, which can have a long-lasting impact on your child's social development. Studies have shown that a focus on prosocial behaviour in early childhood fosters altruistic traits and emotional intelligence, like empathy and compassion, throughout a child's life.
Your child's opportunity to build positive relationships with their new caregivers is also significant in their development. In addition, it will support a strong attachment style, which has substantial long-term positive implications on their social and emotional well-being.
Connection & Communication
Stemming from the daily social interactions your child will have at daycare comes countless opportunities for connection and communication. One of the many benefits of daycare is the opportunity for your baby to engage with others in active touch as they make meaningful connections and strengthen their language skills.
The daily exchange of discourse with familiar faces and trained caregivers will promote your child's communication skills and their ability to express themselves. In addition, having a familiar environment where your child feels safe and comfortable will allow them the confidence to practice their expressive language skills at each developmental stage.
Consistency & Routine
The importance of consistency and routine in early childhood is undeniable – and daycare provides your child (and the entire family) with exactly that.
As new little humans in a big world, children need a solid foundation of structure and stability to learn and grow. So having a consistent schedule and routine is one of the big benefits of daycare: it's a great way to provide structure for children, which allows them to predict and anticipate what's next.
Predictability provides children with an opportunity to feel in control of their lives and increasingly confident in their place in the world.
A daycare provides children with opportunities to play and socialize with other kids their age. Being able to work with others shows them how to have better behaviors and teaches them to become team players. They learn how to share, play and learn well together while their personalities emerge and minds grow.
Family day care is approved child care that truly focuses on each individual child's development, while providing high quality early learning in an educator's own home.