Choosing a Kindergarten in Brisbane – 5 boxes to tick before you enrol
Brisbane kindergartens are popping up everywhere and with so many choices, it’s important to know what things are important for your child’s enjoyment and development. Your child’s first experience with kindergarten and subsequently the schooling system is imperative to their ongoing feelings towards it. This time in care has the opportunity to establish great patterns of behaviour for future development but be sure to consider the following before you enrol in your Brisbane Kindergarten.
All accredited Brisbane kindergartens are created equal….in theory
All accredited kindergartens and childcare centres must meet some pretty stringent standards of care, including teacher-child ratios, early learning outcomes and reporting. Your kindergarten room should have folders for each child, that outline their progress through the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF – kind of like the National Curriculum for kindy). This is the bare minimum requirement these days and it’s designed to help your child succeed in Prep. There are of course alternatives to the standard kindy such as the Steiner School – these may or may not attract government rebates so it’s vital to do your research.
Brisbane Kindergartens Book Fast – Get in early
First and foremost it’s important to start your search for a great kindergarten early. Rushing around will only result in you choosing a kindy because it is the only one still available – remember that good kindergartens are likely to have a waiting list. Ensure you contact your local council to get a list of nearby sites and then follow up with an introductory phone call to establish if there are still places available.
Kindergarten Costs Vs Kindy Accredited Child Care Costs
Just like the quality of care, the quality of government child care rebate may vary from kindy to kindy! Some traditional kindergartens (including some of the larger, most reputable centres) are only classified registered child care (not accredited) and do not meet the requirements for full government rebates and benefits. It doesn’t mean they provide lower quality care, it just means that they may not be open long enough hours to qualify you for the full rebate. So, it’s time to do the unthinkable….it’s time to call Centrelink! Once you know what you’re entitled to, you can set yourself a maximum budget and start doing your research to gauge what fees different areas are charging. Some kindergartens are actually long day care centres. With the recent government initiative to bring “kindy up to standard” accredited day care centres are now required to meet EYLF outcomes just like any other kindy. So…you can stick with your day care centre and receive the same level of funding (or in some cases, more) and the same level of care. Regardless of whether it’s a kindy or a day care centre, some will offer longer operating hours or a wider range of equipment whilst others may have smaller numbers which will often increase fees. Be sure to check that your weekly fees also cover all costs – check for hidden fees for food, nappies (if still necessary) any mandatory donations (tissues, toilet paper and other consumables etc) before you make a commitment.
Don’t be Shy! Ask About Your Child’s Specific Needs!
If you have an only child, socialisation will be a key part of the kindy year. If you’ve got a crafty kid, will there be plenty of arts and crafts classes. If your child is especially interested in music, or maths, or even just fire trucks, will the kindy offer things to do for your child to explore their interests. Ask about the curriculum personalisation and be sure to suss out the teacher for any signs of crazy! Talk to other parents and teachers to gauge how the teacher performs and most importantly, ask your child what they think! If you are considering an alternative course of education, be sure to ask about the long term commitment, if the program doesn’t suit the child, what happens? Will they be able to transition to regular schooling? If it really does suit the child, are there enough places to follow through into high school?
A Practical Kindy For You
The final key to finding the right kindy for you and your child is to ensure they meet your family’s needs. Is the kindy close by in case a friend or family member needs to help out in pick ups/drop offs? If it’s a day care centre, what is the policy for siblings attending – is this guaranteed if they are both attending at the same time (remember, having two children at different locations can prove difficult). Unlike high schools, you can’t just pop your kindy kid on the train in the mornings! Choosing a kindergarten for your Brisbane Kid is the first step towards building a great education for them! With the checklist above, you should be able to build a clear understanding of the different kindergartens in Brisbane. Create a spreadsheet to track your visits and invest the time to ensure you go to each potential kindergarten in person – it will be worth it when you see your little one’s smile at each and every drop off.