This is a frequently asked question by working parents, and often the answer is not as simple as you might think. When showing new families our grounds at Kenmore District Kindergarten, they often say that while childcare has some advantages in terms of the length of the day and what food/care items are provided, there are some big drawbacks to this type of care. The most frequently voiced complaints are:
That their child is not being “challenged” enough
They are often confused about who is “in-charge” at the Centre
Staff turnover is high
Their child does not settle well at drop-off
Their child is always falling ill
Their child is in a ‘Kindy program’ but there is not a qualified Kindy teacher present.
Having taught in both settings and having had two children go through both types of care - I have a good understanding of the differences between the two early learning settings and where families tend to see the most benefits. Spoiler alert in line with studies in this area Kindergarten tends to have many more advantages for children.
The Benefits of Kindergarten
Relationships - since Kindy has set days for each group you have the same children attending each program. This helps to facilitate good relationships with both the staff and the other children.
Community - with set start and finish times, families are also able to get to know each other at drop-off and pick-up and form their own community around the kindergarten.
Structure - Kindy is more structured and has a regular daily routine so that children know what to expect each day.
Social - Community Kindergartens like Kenmore District Kindergarten will have several social events each year and which contributes to a tight-knit community feel. Some of the events we hold at our Kindy are Family BBQ’s, Family Fun Days and Christmas Pizza Evenings.
Involvement - Kindy’s are managed by a committee of parents so families enrolled are truly invested in their children’s education.
Stability - Kindy teacher and educator positions are well sought after, so there tends to be much lower staff turnover.
Local - Kenmore District Kindergarten has been in operation for over 60 years and has strong ties to the local community.
Nature - There tends to be a big focus on outdoor play at kindergartens. At Kenmore District Kindergarten we have mature trees that provide a lot of shade, lush grass, and space for children to run.
Activities - Many Kindy’s run specialty programs that are not available at childcare. We include Music, Sports, and other special programs such as Forest Wildings School and Bee Aware in our program so that children get exposed to a wide variety of activities.
Qualified - Kindy programs are run by degree-qualified teachers who provide higher quality experiences throughout the entire day.
Flexibility - Some Kindergartens have adapted to meet working family needs. At Kenmore District Kindergarten we have a long-day program, and we also offer Aftercare every day.
Transition - Part of the focus of kindergarten is school readiness. Therefore, many Kindies such as Kenmore District Kindergarten run a transition to school program and other excursions to local schools. Our relationship with Kenmore State School includes attendance at the Easter parade, Under-Eight’s Day, Tuck-shop visits and use of the school’s environmental area.
Benefits of Childcare:
Most Childcare Centre’s operate on much longer days – usually the day is at least 10 hours long which does give parents flexibility in drop-off and pick-up times.
Many childcares now cater meals and provide nappies/wipes to the younger children. This does help to alleviate some stress on the parents having to prepare meals but means that they have less control over what their children eat. Plus, we find that our children often take great pride in their lunchbox.
If you work long hours and have a child, with younger siblings also needing care, a childcare centre will mean they could both attend the same service.
Finally, we recognise the needs of working families and that often both parents are employed full-time. Many of our families have their children enrolled in both our Kindergarten program and at another childcare facility on separate days. These families often report back how happy they are with this mix of care and how they can see their children thriving. And wonderfully, we also hear that the children tend to prefer their Kindy days and miss their teachers on their non-Kenmore District Kindy days.