Attending an Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) centre brings with it a range of benefits, opportunities and experiences that will support your child’s learning and development.
A question you may have asked yourself might be, “Is my child ready to attend an ECEC centre?” Being ready looks and feels different for every child and family. Itis important to remember that no matter where your child is on their developmental journey, an ECEC centre is accessible and available to everyone.
A quality ECEC centre will give your child the opportunity to:
Build relationships with adults and children outside the family
For some children, settling into an ECEC centre is their first experience of spending time away from you and other family members. This may feel daunting and is a significant step for both you and your child. Try to remember that when children experience new places and people it gives them the opportunity to discover their own identity, build self-confidence and develop their own relationships with others.
Building relationships with new people takes time. Educators will take an active role in nurturing and supporting your child to form positive relationships and friendships. Warm, caring and responsive interactions will allow your child to feel safe, secure and supported, giving them a sense of belonging and confidence to explore, play and learn.
Learn through play
Children learn naturally through play and because play is fun, they keep wanting more! Your child will be supported to engage in a variety of different play and learning activities, based on their individual strengths, interests, support needs and covering all areas of development.
Learn from other children
Your child will be encouraged to play and share with their peers, watch and learn from others around them, and experience what it feels like to belong as part of a group.
Learn through new routines
Your child’s ECEC centre will follow a daily routine. Consistent routines are a positive way to allow children to learn what is going to happen next. Educators will support each child to feel safe, secure and supported to engage in activities and practice new skills. Your child’s educators will give your child time to settle in, ensuring that any additional supports that they need are in place.
Your child’s ECEC centre routine may look something like this:
- Centre open. Welcome children. Breakfast served (childcare centre) and free play
- Children gather as a group for calendar, news and story time
- Indoor/outdoor play
- Toileting and washing hands
- Morning tea
- Indoor/outdoor play small group activities
- Rest, relaxation and quiet activities
- Music, movement and dance
- Afternoon tea
- Gather as a group. End of the day activity and goodbye song
Learn to be independent
Throughout your child’s day they will be provided with opportunities to participate alongside their peers. This can be during activities, transitions and self-care tasks such as going to the toilet, washing their hands, eating meals, getting dressed and packing belongings away. Participating in skills and activities as part of a daily routine gives your child the opportunity to practice, make sense of what is being asked of them and work towards gaining independence.
Receive support for their transition to school
Starting school is a big milestone for children and families and your child’s educators are there to help prepare your child and you for the next step. Social and emotional preparation will be the foundation for this transition. Your child’s educators will also work together with you to connect with your child’s new school and share information about your child’s strengths, interests, and individual needs.
Your child’s educators will provide a transition to school program, which will include a range of fun activities to familiarise your child with their new school.
What an ECEC centre can provide for you as a parent
Educators will strive to:
- Build a positive and trusting relationship with you and your family
- Develop effective ways to communicate and share information
- Work in partnership with you and other services who support your child. This may include therapy services such as Speech and Occupational Therapy
- Give you peace of mind to know that your child is safe and happy while you have some time apart
Listen to a parent talk about how her child benefited from attending an early childhood centre and the importance of an early childhood education for children with disabilities or developmental delays.
Additional links and resources
- Child care for children with disability, autism or other additional needs
- Starting school: preparing children
Benefits of Early Childhood Education (nsw.gov.au)