Choosing the right childcare facility for your family can feel like an overwhelming task. There are so many practical factors to consider, and at the heart of it all, every parent simply wants to send their child somewhere they feel they will flourish. With so many centres to choose from, ranging from tiny family daycares to large established centres with multiple sites, you may be wondering which type of care will best suit your child. We’ve broken down the pros and cons of a big child care centre vs. a smaller facility to help you decide.
Of course, bigger isn’t always better, but when it comes to facilities, you’ll usually find that bigger centres have much more to offer in terms of their equipment, learning materials and extra curricular activities (like language lessons, swimming, sports, gardening and cooking). If you think your child is more likely to be engaged by an environment with a wider range of facilities on offer, a bigger centre might be your best bet.
Larger facilities also have the benefit of having more staff, meaning that staff shortages are rare and children receive the benefit of interacting with a number of staff members, giving them more opportunities to make connections. More staff members also means more expert knowledge and more combined years of experience, with staff working together to deliver the best educational experiences possible. While some parents may see larger numbers of children as a negative, more kids means more opportunities for your child to form friendships with somebody they ‘click’ with and more experience socialising with all different kinds of people. Plus, a good childcare centre will ensure they break out into small groups for many activities to ensure your child is still receiving plenty of one-on-one attention and isn’t overwhelmed by the other children.
No childcare centre is able to grow, expand and be successful without having rigorous rules, regulations and procedures in place to ensure safety, hygiene and the optimal running of the centre. Big centres will usually have the benefit of well-established policies and procedures that are strictly adhered to, giving you peace of mind that your child is being properly cared for while they’re at the centre.
When it comes to quality childcare, you often get what you pay for and larger centres with better offerings often come with a higher price tag than their smaller counterparts. However, you may be surprised, and in some cases the well-resourced, well-staffed centre you have your eye on may actually be cheaper than the tiny centre you’re comparing it with, especially when you consider the inclusions that you don’t have to pay an additional fee for. It’s always best to simply ask for each centre’s rates before making any decisions based on cost.
The more people your child comes into contact with in a day, the more opportunities they have to be exposed to germs. If you’re considering a bigger centre, this may be a factor to consider, although it’s also worth asking about the hygiene practices the centre has in place to mitigate the spread of germs. A big centre with good hygiene practices can actually be safer than a small centre with poor practices, so make sure you ask questions when you’re taking a tour.
Bigger centres usually run within quite a well established structure and routine, in order to ensure the day runs smoothly. While for some parents this is a selling point, others may feel that their child would thrive in a less structured environment. However keep in mind pretty much all centres will have some kind of structure to their day, while some providers may be more flexible and spontaneous than others.
A smaller centre will have fewer children, meaning they may have the option of tailoring their care and activities to suit the interests and personalities of their students. Again, just because this is possible doesn’t mean it always happens, so it’s best to ask questions or take note of whether this appears to be part of the ethos of the centre.
Depending on how small the centre is and how close together your children are in age, some small centres may allow siblings to stay together, which can sometimes help little ones to feel more secure (although it may be the opposite of helpful if your kids tend to clash). Family daycare is also an option if it’s important to you that your children are not separated during the day.
While having less staff has its drawbacks, it can be appealing for parents as it’s easier to get to know your child’s educators when there’s not as many of them. A smaller centre may also feel more casual and informal, as you’ll likely start to recognise most of the other children and their parents over time. As long as you and your child get on with the other families, an intimate centre can be great, although some people prefer a larger social pool for both themselves and their child.
If you choose a family daycare, it’s important to be aware that these care providers are not bound by the same rules and regulations as child care centres. It’s essential that you ensure the family day care provider is appropriately qualified and has a valid National Police Check and Working With Children Check. Small child care centres may also not have as many policies and procedures in place to ensure safety, hygiene and optimal educational outcomes, so it’s important to ask the right questions to ensure the quality of care is up to scratch.
If you choose a family day care provider you will need to be prepared with a backup option for the times when the provider is sick and unable to care for your child. Similarly at small centres with few staff, staff shortages can create complications and lead to less than optimal conditions.
While big and small childcare centres both have their pros and cons, ultimately it will come down to what each individual centre is offering and of course, your gut feeling when visiting each centre and talking to the educators. You are the expert on your child, and during your tour you will probably get a feel for whether or not that centre is somewhere you feel your child can flourish. Book a tour at Little Zak’s today, to find out if one of our centres is a good fit for your child.