1.     Is the space a safe, creative, learning environment?
The safety of the children is always paramount. Keypad security, safety gates, shaded play areas and age appropriate play equipment are things to look out for.

The learning environment in which a child is surrounded by must be stimulating, encouraging and engaging.

Oac learning environments are purposefully designed to support the key Oac Grow curriculum areas appropriate to each age group both indoor and outdoor.  Oac environments are fitted-out with leading edge resources that complement our premium offering.

We achieve this through:
• the inclusion of dedicated art spaces, libraries and dining areas in all classrooms
• outdoor environments that support sustainable practices, including recycling, water conservation and gardening
• the predominant use of natural based resources over plastic
• the integration of technology for learning, including iPads.
We suggest taking a tour the centre before enrolling.

2.     Are the staff qualified and caring?
Trained and qualified staff is an advantage over nannies and home day-care.

Child care employees should be educated, passionate, responsible and enthusiastic.

We recommend checking the qualifications of the Director and educators and enquire about the child to staff ratios. It is imperative that your child receives sufficient care and attention.

3.     Is there an educational practice in place and is it age appropriate?
Ask questions about the curriculum or daily routine. Does it support the Early Years Learning Framework adopted by main lead childcare centres? Is there a brochure you can read?
“At Oac, we stretch the boundaries of traditional early learning frameworks and approaches, and are continually redefining the way Australian children and families experience an early childhood setting. Combining learning from international evidence based best practice, the latest brain research and the EYLF, Oac has developed its own curriculum to achieve outstanding results.”

Oac Grow provides a clear educational framework based on innovation and best practice to guide educators in their teaching practice with regards to:
• defined curriculum areas specific to nursery, toddler and preschool age children
• the design, planning and resourcing of all learning environments
• planning, documentation and reporting expectations
• Educational outcomes specific to each child’s age and stage that are regularly monitored and progress reported on.

The curriculum areas are integrated into the daily program for all children and include:
• literacy and numeracy
• science, technology and inquiry based learning
• creative arts including art, music, drama and movement
• sustainable practices and community responsibility
• Respectful relationships and caring for one another.

4.     Is your Child’s health a priority?
Social and emotional wellbeing in young developing children and a healthy start to life is important not only for future learning but also for supporting the child well into adult life.

Children aren’t small adults, so their nutrition needs are different. Rapid growth means the energy needs for their size are high. To meet energy and nutrition requirements for growth and development, children benefit from having a variety of foods from the five food groups. Ask to see the menu that is on offer. Is it wholesome, healthy and delicious food?

Oac provides families with thorough and holistic insights into the growth and develop of their child at an early and formative stage of their child’s development.  This is delivered through the ‘Oac Health’ services and offers allied health specialist support. This provides comprehensive developmental advice that supports quality educational outcomes for children.

In addition to any regulatory mandated requirements, Oac Health support is provided by:
• an Allied Health Team consisting of qualified Occupational Therapists and Speech Therapists on staff, supported by highly qualified external consultants in vision and hearing
• a qualified Nutritionist that focuses on ensuring quality nutrition across the Oac Group
• annual developmental screening and reporting for vision, speech and hearing
• child referral, consultancy, early intervention and therapy
• educator training for ‘special needs’ children
• infectious disease advisement.

5.     Is your child happy and secure?
Secure and caring relationships between the children and the educators are very important. It is critical in children being able to experience learning positively.  Pay attention to the mood of the other children and educators when touring the centre.

At Oac, children are part of a small group led by a lead educator that supports friendships and a sense of belonging and ensures that families are able to form a consistent relationship with their child’s educator.

Your child must feel secure with the same staff. “At Oac we feel it’s important that families and children are met with a familiar face each day”
A great gauge for how your child will be treated is how welcome you and your child are made to feel upon your introduction, and whether the children at the campus are engaged and enjoying their activities.

About the author

Rebecca Watson – Head of Curriculum and Innovation, Premium childcare provider, Only About Children™ (Oac). Oac is opening a brand new, state of the art campus in the suburb of Armadale, Victoria in early 2015. This campus will join the already established 28 campuses in Australia, with another 9 currently under development.