Camden's Young Academics Smeaton Grange could be the perfect early learning centre for your child

What to look for in the perfect early learning centre for your child

This is sponsored content for Young Academics Smeaton Grange.

Selecting an early learning centre for your child is one of the most important decisions you'll make for their academic lives.

Your choice can impact their emotional, social and educational development so it's vital that you carefully consider every factor, making sure it's right for your child and your family.

Samantha Curmi, area manager at Young Academics early learning centre at Smeaton Grange, said while each family is different there are some key considerations to look out for to help you make the best decision.

"Every family is unique and will require different features," Ms Curmi said. "You want to make sure the centre is warm and welcoming but also that it's aligned with what you want and need."

Location and operating hours

A centre might be perfect in every way but if it's not conveniently located, and open when you need it then it's going to create difficulties.

"The benefits of having a centre close by parents' workplace is that they can drop the children off early and then not be rushing to pick them up because they're sitting in traffic and afraid they won't make it before the centre closes," Ms Curmi said.

"Or choosing a centre close to where they live means families get to know what's happening in the community and meet new friends. Often the children that attend Young Academics Smeaton Grange finish preschool and attend the same primary school - usually Oran Park, St Justin's, Mt Annan or Gledswood.

"This makes the transition from preschool to primary school a comfortable experience for them. They already have relationships with a lot of the other students that will be attending, so it's supporting their social and emotional wellbeing."

Play environment

Exploratory play and play-based learning is vital for teaching children essential life skills as well as for growing independence and confidence.

It's important to select a centre that has a great outdoor area for the children as well as a purpose-built indoor play area that's a fun environment with lots of natural light and fresh air.

"At Young Academics we believe in the Reggio Emilia approach which recognises the environment as a 'third teacher'," said Ms Curmi.

"Behind educators and families, physical spaces hold the potential to influence what and how children learn.

"Our outdoor yard backs onto the bush so the children can engage in nature, exploring what animals live in trees, what trees look like in different seasons, and how trees can be used in a variety of ways such as collecting the bark to make paper."

Learning philosophy

There are different approaches to teaching and learning that centres adopt. While some use a variety of measures to ensure every type of child is catered for, others don't. This can be very detrimental to a child's learning.

Ms Curmi said the Young Academics evolution program is flexible, interactive, active and child-centred and forms the basis of the daily routine and activities at Smeaton Grange.

"We believe secure, respectful and reciprocal relationships provide each child with a secure base for exploration and learning," she said.

"Our passionate educators set goals twice a year that are tailored for each child. These goals build on the child's achievements and actively work towards developing new skills like understanding numbers, building positive social skills such as sharing, and developing handwriting.

"Through critical reflection the educators will provide teaching strategies, for example, scaffolding, intentional teaching, shared thinking and open-ended questions to build on achieving their goals.

"Half yearly and at the end of the year a developmental summary then captures the child's learning through a holistic approach."

Nutrition

Nutrition is an essential part of every child's physical development. At a young age, food is also an excellent opportunity for children to learn about the life cycle of food, find out about different cultures, and understand how important food and good eating habits are to their body and mind.

When you're doing your research look for centres with a dedicated food and nutrition program providing the kind of healthy meals and food education your child deserves. It will help set them up for a healthier life ahead.

At Young Academics, for example, there's a qualified cook who makes delicious meals on the premises with a menu prepared by a nutritionist, and the children help grow some of the fresh ingredients.

"Each meal caters for individual dietary and cultural needs, and we evaluate the menu weekly and ask families for feedback," said Ms Curmi.

"The children also enjoy picking herbs and making salads from our own vegetable garden. They learn what they need to sow or harvest following our kitchen garden program."

You can find out more about what Young Academics can offer your family by visiting its website or calling the team at the Smeaton Grange centre on 1300 668 993.

This is advertiser content for Young Academics Smeaton Grange.