What is the best age to start childcare?

The journey into the world of parenting is exciting, scary and filled with so many amazing moments. Among these, you may find is the first day of childcare.

Starting childcare is a big journey itself and one that is incredibly personal and unique to each family, but at some stage conversations will start and will likely form around the question of: when is the right time for you?

This blog post will provide you some guidance on navigating these conversations when the time approaches.

Identifying the right time

There is no magic ‘right time’ to start – so we are sorry if that’s what you came here to find.

Some families need to get back to work quickly, which will see babies starting from as young as six weeks of age; while others may have the opportunity to stay at home with their child longer or have support networks that they can lean on.

In other words, the right time will be different for everyone, so have peace of mind that this is a personal journey for your family.

It’s time to start childcare – what do we need to consider?

The conversations around childcare have commenced in your household and they may contain a lot of unanswered questions; how many days a week do we utilise childcare, how many hours a day, how much does it cost, when do we start, what do we do?

Some of the first things to consider include:

  • Financial obligations: check in with Centrelink and understand what the Child Care Subsidy will look like for you. This will help you with your daily fees and help you determine what your out-of-pocket costs will be. This will be dependent on your household income and the number of hours worked.
  • Number of days in childcare: once you have checked in with Centrelink and understand your financial situation, you will be able to best determine how many days your child can be at childcare. This will also work around your work and personal schedules.
  • Your own emotional readiness: this is incredibly important to check back in with. Understanding that this step is a big one to take especially if it is your first child. By being honest with yourself and knowing your emotional capacity, you will be able to discuss this openly and mindfully.

Once you have resolved where you stand financially and what this looks like from a daily or weekly rate, you can then start the search around your local community for the right childcare centres for you and your family.

Trying to find the right childcare can be tough and overwhelming.

You are looking for a place to provide love, compassion, care and education when you are unable to do so yourself whether it be for work or personal reasons. 

Knowing what to look for can be tough, as well as knowing what questions you should ask as you are going through this sometimes-unknown process. 

We wrote an article earlier in the year addressing this exact topic, you can read this by clicking here.

Consider the philosophy and values of the centre

Did you know that each childcare centre has their own philosophy and set of values?

Understanding what these are and how they align to your parenting styles and family dynamics will make your shortlisting and decision making easier.

When touring centres, take some time with the room educators your child would be going into, understand their environment, how they operate and what ultimately guides their practice. Observe how the other children are responding to their environment, their activities and the level of engagement the Educators have with the children. Is their style what your child needs and does it align with your own values?

Making the transition

Once you’ve chosen your childcare centre, arrange some stay and play sessions leading into the first full day of care.

Another great tip is to start childcare the week before your commencement back at work/other commitments; again, this prioritises your own emotional readiness prior to tackling work or other commitments again after having taken extended leave.

Ask your childcare centre what you need to provide to make the transition as easy as possible. Some key items would include:

  • A school bag.
  • Spare change of clothes relevant to the seasons.
  • If your child is wearing nappies, nappy rash cream with a chemist label containing their name.
  • You may also need to pack bottles, formula, a drink bottle etc.
  • An item of comfort like a dummy or plush toy, wrap, sleep suit.

Providing as much detail about your current routines or schedules to Educators also best helps your child transition to their new environment. How did they sleep throughout the night, how many naps do they need, how long do they sleep per nap, how often are they fed a bottle/food; all of this shared information helps set everyone up for success.

What to expect

We can absolutely guarantee your first day will contain a lot of emotion for you and depending on the age of your child, it may be a little difficult for them too. Don’t be shy to call up or check in to hear how your child is going, as many times as you need. This can be a big step for all of you, so be kind to yourself.  

For some little ones, the second day in care can be a little more challenging than the first day.  After a great first day with no tears, they can sometimes become emotional when coming back to the centre the second day.  This is completely normal and by reassuring them that you love them and that you will be back to pick them up later, they will very quickly settle.

We can also promise, it does get easier.

Providing a Sanctuary

Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure provides a sanctuary for your child and your family. We are a safe space for all adventures, whether they be first time ones or ones explored before.

At Sanctuary Early Learning Adventure, we understand how important the early years are for a child’s development. With a steadfast commitment to providing a safe, enriching and nurturing environment for your child, we offer a second home where they can explore, learn and grow.

Take some time to explore our website and ask yourself – are you ready to start an adventure with us? Send an email or give us a call to get in touch and arrange a tour.  

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