The time has come and you are feeling mixed emotions as you prepare to send your child to preschool. He or she may already be in a daycare setting but you would still like to do your due diligence by looking at other local preschools. You might be new to the Blue Mountains and have no idea which preschool to choose. Or you’ve raised your little one in the mountains and now the time has come to put your child’s name down at a preschool. It’s a big milestone! Blue Mountains Mums have taken the guesswork out of it for you and provided a few helpful tips when searching for an early education provider for your precious one.
We are spoilt for choice in the Blue Mountains to have a plethora of quality childcare and preschool providers to choose from. As a result, many of our preschools have extensive waiting lists. If you already have a preschool in mind, please remember, as soon as your little one blows out those two birthday candles, fill out the preschool waiting list form. To be offered a place, especially as a three year old, it is generally a ‘next in line’ system, but four year olds are given first preference). Many preschools in the Blue Mountains accept names on their waiting lists from the age of two (please call and confirm with the preschool you have in mind, as some may accept names from a younger age) so put your child’s name down early to avoid the disappointment of not getting a place in your preferred preschool.
Our preschools are regulated by the National Quality Framework, which applies to most long day care, family day care and preschool services. Requirements such as qualifications, educator-to-child ratios and other key staffing arrangements are critical elements of the assessment process. Childcare services, including preschools, are currently being assessed and rated against each of the seven Quality Areas of the National Quality Standard and the National Regulations and then given an overall rating.
We are pleased to say that our Blue Mountains preschools rate extremely highly and you generally cannot go wrong with your choice.
Here is a list of our Blue Mountains preschools (we have also included down to Penrith and out to Lithgow) that are currently exceeding National Quality Standards. This list might be helpful to you when making your choice. This information is correct at the date of publication. Please keep in mind that if a particular centre is not yet on this list, they may be due for their assessment soon and may have worked hard to improve on many aspects of their centre or preschool since their last assessment.
If you would like to know more, please take the time to visit the following website: https://www.startingblocks.gov.au/find-child-care/
It is an essential resource when choosing your early education childcare provider or preschool. You will find out which National Quality Standards they are working towards, meeting and exceeding in.
The National Quality Standards are one informative way to assess which preschool might suit your child, but in addition to the standardised ratings, you may like to also consider:
Word of mouth
Ask your friends and other Mums on our Blue Mountains Mums Facebook Group or at playgroups about preschools in your area and their child’s experiences. Ask how the preschool helped your child to settle in if they needed extra support, the range of activities the children were engaged in, how effective home-school communication was and did the preschool have a community feel?
Make arrangements to book a tour of the preschools in your area. Consider visiting preschools that might be slightly further away as well. They might align more with what you are looking for, so add them to your list. Most preschools are more than happy to show you around and answer any questions you may have.
During your visit, look for teachers who show a love of children and whether the children seem engaged, happy and supported. How do staff speak to the children in class? Do they notice your child and get down to your child’s eye level and ask him or her a few questions? Is the environment clean and safe? Is children’s work displayed around the room? All these aspects give you clues about what the preschool prioritises and values.
Your needs and beliefs
Enquire about what is important to you and your family’s beliefs. What are the preschool’s discipline policies? Are they accepting of all family arrangements? What emphasis does the preschool put on play based learning compared to academic outcomes? How does the preschool handle religious beliefs and celebrations? Does the preschool make adjustments for children with special needs? Are there accessible ramps and toilets? Do they offer special programs, such as Bush Preschool or Playgroup?
Speak with your early education provider or preschool about your values and preferences, because most strive to be as inclusive and accommodating as possible for all children and are continually seeking to improve their practices and programs.
After all is said and done, if you and your child are happy with your provider, then don’t sweat it. If your child is thriving and happy, then that’s what matters most!