Choosing the right age for daycare is not an easy decision. While it is true that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect’ age, there are a number of pros and cons to starting your child at any age. If there is anything most educators will agree upon is that daycare is good for your child.
There are a number of factors that will determine whether or not your child is ready for daycare and they are not all about him or her. Finances and work commitments will have a lot to do with the final decision. The overall health of your child and support network will also contribute.
Ultimately, the decision that works for one family will not be precisely the same conditions that will work for another. Because entering your child in a childcare centre program is so dependent on individual circumstances, it is important that you take your time to assess your situation and not rush into it. Here are some tips that may help you with your decision:
1. Between 0 and 18 Months
How old does a baby have to be for daycare? In some cases, parent wish to return to work as soon as possible. However, sometimes this can be a little too early to start childcare. At early ages, babies are forming attachments to their primary caregivers, and it is a very important part of childhood development. With this in mind, it is still possible to find daycare for this age group.
Smaller group sizes would be required for childcare for a baby. This creates a family-like dynamic which would allow interaction and attention more on a one-on-one basis. The downside to daycare at this age would be that not many caregivers will have space for babies due to class size ratios.
2. Between 18 months and 3 years
This is the age where children tend to have a lot of energy and curiosity. Toddlers entering this phase in their lives are growing and exploring and need special attention in a daycare setting.
The positives of enrolling your child at this age is that they will be able to exercise creativity and active participation.
The downside to introducing your child in this age group to daycare is that the service provider will need to have a safe, encouraging facility and program. This means play time is a must and that will require additional supervision. This may rule out smaller providers or at home family day care centres.
3. Between 3 Years and 5 Years
Since children in this age group are that much closer to entering preschool, their requirements are very different. As they are at that stage where they are learning general life skills, they are developing a sense of independence. They will also still need to follow instruction and behave appropriately.
The good outweigh the bad when looking at whether or not this is the best age for kids to start daycare. Daycare providers able to prepare your child for the step into formal schooling would be beneficial at this point. There also has to be plenty of opportunity to learn through play and interaction with others.
So, What Is The Best Age to Start Daycare?
As you can see, there is no clear indicator to tell you when you and your child are ready for childcare. Having to return to work may force the issue or speed up the process for many and it may have no bearing on the decision for others.
Generally speaking, waiting until after your child has had their first birthday can be a good time to start looking into a childcare service. Many parents look to between one and two years of age. But as for knowing when the best age to start daycare arrives in your home, only you will know.
At Cubby College Child Care Centre, we understand that parents need to enrol their children at various ages depending on many personal factors. Hence we cater for children between 6 weeks and 6 years old. Our staff are specially trained to make the transition into child care as easy as possible. So book in for a tour at our centre in Concord, in Sydney’s inner west, and let us show you around.