Let’s face it, choosing a crèche or early childhood development (ECD) centre, as it is formally known, for your little one can be a harrowing experience.
It doesn’t help that there have been some hectic stories covered in the media recently about abuse at crèches.
So if you are looking for a crèche, pre-school or educational facility for tots and toddlers, what should you be looking for? The Indaba Institute, an ECD-teacher training foundation based in the Cape Winelands, offers some advice for parents.
First, there is a formal process by which ECD centres can be officially registered in South Africa.
This explanation, by the Western Cape Government, offers a thorough understanding of what registered ECD centres need to offer.
This method of teaching was developed by Dr Maria Montessori in the early 1900s. And, it involves child-based tasks called “work” in the classroom.
What to ask the teachers
Parents could ask what experience and training in child development the teachers have. T
They might ask: Why did they choose a career working with young children, what attracts them to supporting children’s development? How do they see their role in supporting and advocating for children?
Basic facilities all ECDs should have
All facilities should be clean and safe, first and foremost. This is safe for all aspects of the child’s development – physically, socially, psychologically and emotionally.
Ideally, the facility is free of clutter and pleasing to the adult’s eye in a way their own home might be and yet have chairs and other amenities sized specifically for the children in the space.
Syllabus at crèche?
The most important syllabus that an ECD centre must follow is the natural development of the children it serves. This involves understanding child development and observation skills that will support the preparations of the facility.
What should children get out of their ECD experience
Children should be allowed to develop independence in all aspects of their development while in any ECD centre. Children should be offered opportunities to experience their culture through interactions and activities that they participate in.
Red flags may include things such as feeling the need to control everything – the children’s movement, language, choices and such in a way that the adult’s power is an overriding presence.