It’s time… your little one is ready to enter the toddler daycare room and start some new relationships outside the family. It’s a big step for your toddler and for you. No judgement. Some parents start looking for childcare options for toddlers because family finance means it’s time to get back to work, others because the toddler needs external stimulation – we’re not judging, just giving the facts. So, what happens in the toddler daycare room?
What age groups are covered in the toddler room?
First not that not all daycare centres will break up their rooms by this exact age group. When you’re choosing a childcare centre for your toddler, ask about the diversity in ages in the toddler room. Some start their toddler room intake at one year, 15 months, some later. Similarly, some move kids onto “pre-kindy” at three but there is no hard and fast rule. If your child is in the younger end of the toddler scale, you may wish to select a childcare centre that has fewer “big kids” in the room.
What is the teacher-toddler ratio for younger children?
There is a national “minimum” ratio of child carers to young kids however after 2, the ratio varies state by state. There are exceptions to the rules but generally, under the age of two, childcare centres must have a minimum of a 1:4 ratio.
From ages 2-3, the ratios in most states adopt the 1:5 ratio with an increase to 1:11 after three years. This can mean that your local centre will break up the age groups in different rooms according to their staffing levels, not necessarily what is the ideal class size for your toddler.
What does an average day look like in the toddler room?
While it may look like a day filled with play and stories, snacks and naps (please, let me join a toddler room!) the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) outcomes now mean that your childcare “room leader” is actually a qualified professional working within a complex framework.
The Early Years Learning Framework is like a national curriculum for pre-school aged kids. It dictates the kind of culture, activities and assessments carried out in childcare centres across Australia. If your room leadeer doesn’t fulfil the obligations of the EYLF outcomes, the centre can lose accreditation. So, while it looks like fun and games (and it is, free play is a big part of the curriculum), daycare is now an educational institution for very little learners.
EYLF outcomes for toddlers in childcare
The core principles of the EYLF program is belonging, being and becoming. There are five “core” outcomes for pre-school aged children.
Outcome 1 – Children have a strong sense of identity
They feel safe, secure, supported and develop a sense of who they are. This deals with autonomy, resilience, empathy and peer respect.
In the toddler room, this may be about sharing, taking turns, working together and being in charge of their own bodies and emotions.
Outcome 2 – Children are connected with and contribute to their world
This area of learning is about developing a sense of belonging to their community. It aims to help them gain a basic and respectful understanding of diversity, fairness and social responsibility.
Some daycare centres will introduce aspects of various cultures including Aboriginal art, diverse festivals and histories and awareness of your toddlers own ancestry. It may mean sharing family photos and play based around ecological and social issues.
Outcome 3 – Children have a strong sense of wellbeing
Your toddler daycare room leader will help your child to understand their social and emotional needs and help them to take care of their own health and physical wellbeing.
In the toddler daycare room, this may look like healthy eating education, hand washing and safe play.
Outcome 4 – Children are confident and involved learners
Your room leader will draw out your toddler’s curiosity, enthusiasm, persistence and imagination. They will touch on basic problem solving, research, experimentation, and investigation and then adapt what they’ve learned in other situations.
For your toddler, this means basic “science play”, cookery, eco-activities, manual play (blocks, Mobilo etc), technology and other “investigative and process” based activities. While they won’t be sitting down with a physics text book any time soon, your child carer will encourage a passion for learning.
Outcome 5 – Children are effective communicators
This area develops verbal and non-verbal communication skills. It’s not just about teaching your toddler to talk! This area covers expression of ideas using multiple media, reading comprehension, symbols and patterns and various technologies for communication.
In the toddler childcare room, these skills are learned through painting and craft, through story time (with follow up questions and discussions) and creative ways for your toddler to express her thoughts. It’s also about engaging toddlers in conversation to build their fluency, vocabulary and confidence when speaking.
Positive outcomes reported by mums who put their toddlers into daycare
The Baby Hints and Tips audience reports that putting a toddler into daycare is a big step for both mum and child! Finding the RIGHT daycare centre will make all the difference to your toddler’s experience. With anything parenting, not all toddlers will have the same experience and there will be bumps along the way. The positive feedback we’re received from the massive Baby Hints and Tips Parenting Community is:
- Rapid increase in communication skills, including vocabulary and the ability to express needs.
- Remedied “anti-social” behaviours like hitting and biting
- Toddler shows new interests
- Toddler advances in their “relationship” style. Less “side by side play” more “friend based play”
- Toddler expresses ideas. Rather than relying on mum for all ideas, the toddler begins to express her own ideas for play.
- Adopting other kids’ behaviour. This can go either way! While some mums report “new tantrums” others report a reduction in tantrums and combative behaviour.
- A sense of being “good at things”. While the toddler daycare room isn’t a competitive place, young children will discover their talents! When your child produces a piece of art that gets widely praised, he’ll understand that he’s “good at things”. It makes a big difference when it’s not just mummy who thinks so.
- A new found love of routine. This takes time and isn’t always the case. Childcare can raise issues of separation anxiety and wilful rebellion but many of our community have reported better day sleeps and weekly routines.
- I am a big grown up kid now. Because your toddler room leader will encourage independent toileting, feeding and other basic life skills, you may find that your child is suddenly very interested in ditching the nappies – and that’s a universally LOVED concept!
- Relationship building. With a toddler out and about, mums report feeling “better” having a little “mummy down time” or at least a less stressful work day. They report having new things to talk about with toddlers and delight in the experiences their toddlers share.
- Next level ideas. Some mums choose to send their toddler to childcare because their child appears to need new stimulation. These mums report a rapid flourishing in their little one, as her mind opens up to new experiences.
Is the toddler daycare room for your family?
All toddlers will react differently to “going to daycare”. Some won’t even pause to say goodbye at the door, some will break your heart with drop off tears! It’s very normal for a toddler who adores daycare to go through periods of acute separation anxiety. Similarly, the toddler who cries at drop off won’t want to leave at pick up. It’s a big step and can bring up big emotions in little people… and in parents.
Every family must decide what is best for their kids. Choosing the RIGHT daycare centre and the right style of childcare will make a big difference to your experience. Shop around, meet the teachers and inspect the rooms and play areas. Toddler daycare rooms are as varied as the little people themselves, find the best fit and reap the rewards!