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Choosing the right early childhood learning centre for you

Teacher with brown curly hair shows young student painting at desk

There are many different preschool and childcare education options for 3 and 4-year-olds, but at this crucial time in your child’s development, it’s important to ensure the educational philosophy of your childcare, kindergarten or early learning centre matches your own.

First things first, what is the difference between kindergarten and an early childhood learning centre?

3-year-old programs run at both long day care or childcare centres and at standalone kindergartens. Both offer teachers and trained educators who will lead the program. At a kindergarten, the program will only run on certain days and at specific times, which isn’t convenient for everyone.

Fortunately, an early childhood learning centre such as Wesley College’s combines longer hours of care with enriched learning opportunities, such as a perceptual motor program and specialist programs of Dance and Drama, Music and Library. Early childhood learning centres can be an educational option which may better suit modern families. Children who attend a Wesley Early Childhood Learning Centre are guaranteed a place in Prep, and many find the familiar environment and staff assists with transition.

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Are the hours for kindergarten and early childhood learning centres different?

A kindergarten program will only run on certain days and at specific times set by the kindergarten service. An early childhood learning centre will provide an integrated kindergarten program with additional hours of education and care, under the guidance of specialist educators.

Wesley’s Early Childhood Education Centre operates during school hours, with before and after school care options available for longer care.

What ages do early childhood learning centres care for?

Check which ages your childcare service covers, as you may need to start thinking about future care and education options. Early learning centres within a school setting provide room to grow and the option of continuing through to primary and senior school in a familiar environment. Attending early learning at Wesley guarantees a place in Prep, with a transition program developed for our youngest learners.

How will I know that my child’s learning and development will be encouraged?

When visiting early learning centres, ask about how they encourage learning and development. Visit any one of Wesley’s three ECLCs at our Elsternwick, Glen Waverley or St Kilda Road campuses and you’ll find the environment is an integral part of the curriculum, reflecting the identity and cultures of our children and families, and promoting independent exploration, collaboration and learning through discovery and play.

Learning is inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy and delivered through the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) and the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework.

Are there ratings for childcare services?

Regulated services across Australia are required to meet high national standards of safety and learning and development opportunities. These services are given quality ratings to help families choose the best service for their child and family. The ratings range from significant improvement required to exceeding and excellent. Wesley College’s three Early Childhood Learning Centre’s (ECLC) have been rated Exceeding by the Assessment and Rating Service of the National Quality Framework.

When you visit an early learning centre, you will have the chance to see the standard of the facilities, meet the educators and have your questions answered. Some other questions you can ask may be:

  • Do you provide things like meals or do I need to bring them from home?
  • What is the ratio of staff to children?
  • Has your service been quality rated and what was the rating?
  • Will I be eligible for any subsidies or other financial assistance?
  • What is the educational philosophy at this centre?

Wesley holds regular open mornings and campus tours of our Early Childhood Learning Centres throughout the school term.

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