What is The Difference Between Daycare And Early Childhood Education?

When it comes to considering care for your young children it can be a lengthy process. There are many things to consider such as values, expectations, the type of care you require and the time your child will be spending in care.

Distinguishing the language when it comes to selecting a child care provider may seem insignificant but it can have a major impact on your child’s development and their start to becoming a lifelong learner.

The Difference Between Daycare And Early Childhood Education

You might have noticed, organisations and service providers have moved away from calling their services “daycare” and instead use terms such as early learning centre and early childhood education.

Daycare is defined as the supervision of children. Simply put, most childcare providers will do more than supervise your children.

Early Childhood Education is fundamental to your child’s growth and development. Education consists of activities and experiences that directly impact their approach to formal education. Early Childhood Education is often provided in early learning centres and facilitated by qualified educators.

How Can I Distinguish Between The Types Of Care?

In Victoria, there are five primary types of care for children: family-based care, early learning centres (long day care), government-run childcare centres, creche and nannying.

  • Nannies provide support to families primarily through in-home care. Depending on the level of service that a nanny can provide, structured care at home will engage cognitive and motor functions and prepare a child for formal education. Nannies can also provide occasional care to help parents through busy periods.
  • Family-based care is where your child is looked after by an approved carer in their home. It is becoming more popular post-covid due to fears of illness. It can be beneficial for some families as there’s a lot of flexibility around the amount of care. The primary outcome of family-based care is that children get to socialise with other children of similar ages. Often these groups are smaller than structured childcare and there isn’t much structure to the curriculum.
  • Creches are used for occasional care, such as when you’re in the office or at the gym. They provide your child with approved supervision and spaces and activities to play. They often don’t have very much structure or a curriculum in place as the children in the space vary each day.
  • Government-run child care centres are often 3-4-year-old kindergartens run by local councils. These spaces are approved to run a number of sessions for children to develop the skills required to be ready for school. Often they are set hours and are shorter sessions such as 10 am – 1 pm or 2 pm – 4 pm. They’re run by university-qualified teachers and follow a similar play base structure to early learning centres.
  • Early Learning Centres provide children aged 6 weeks to 6 years old with structured play-based curriculums that support developmental needs and growth. Within their curriculum, you can expect your child to develop language skills, social skills, independence, confidence, and fine motor skills. ELCs are often bigger establishments than government-run or family-based care and operate as long daycare centres which support working families. They also are closely regulated by the National Quality Framework so will have an educator-to-child ratio of at least 1:4 and have extensive sickness policies to provide the safest environment for your children. 


Child’s Play is An Early Learning Centre

Child’s Play ELC is an early learning centre with an integrated 3-year-old and 4-year-old kindergarten program in all of our services. It’s our philosophy that Every Child Matters. This is why we have adopted two curriculums, Reggio Emilia and Kathy Walker. These curriculums encourage children to develop essential skills through play and curiosity.

We also provide them with opportunities to develop autonomy through self-serving lunches and practice mindfulness through yoga and sensory play. Our program provides children with unique opportunities to engage with our environment and community such as bush kindergarten and walking library incursions.

As a community-focused childcare centre, we work with our parents to ensure all of their child’s needs are met and encourage our families to share and celebrate their culture with us. Through our Child’s Play family, our children have learnt about Chinese New Year, Diwali, EID, and ANZAC Day. Some children have even had the opportunity to learn the basics of another language. We’re proud of our community involvement, if you’d like to learn more we’ve shared some of these events on our Facebook pages.

Choosing A Childcare Provider

Choosing a childcare provider can be a lengthy process and as a parent, you want to make sure you’ve chosen the best one to suit your child and your family. When considering childcare services there are 5 things you should do to ensure that the childcare you choose is the best option.

1. Ask yourself what you want from childcare services. 

Aligning your values and your expectations of childcare can help you filter what type of service you’re looking for and prevent you from entering a cycle of confusion.

2. Consider what will be best for your child and your lifestyle. 

Everyone begins their childcare journey at a different stage in their child’s development, some services may not be appropriate for your child at that time or may not work with your lifestyle. It’s important that you consider all of your responsibilities, needs and events when considering childcare to ensure the best outcome.

3. Book a tour with the childcare provider of your choice.

Particularly if you’re considering Early Learning Centres, book a tour to explore the rooms, get familiar with the educators and see how their curriculum works in practice. Tours of your top three childcare centres may help you confirm which one is the right one for you.

4. Check the ACECQA quality ratings

All formal Early Childhood Education providers are given a Quality Rating by ACECQA. These ratings tell parents if their preferred childcare services are Working Towards, Meeting, Exceeding or in Excellent standing with national standards. (Child’s Play ELC has an Exceeding Rating.)

5. Go to at least two orientation sessions.

Orientation is the perfect time to test out if the childcare service is right for you. During these sessions, your family can get a feel for the environment and meet the educators and room leaders who will be taking care of your child. We recommend at least two to ensure your child is completely comfortable in the space. In the second session, step out of the room to see how the educators assist your child with settling into the room.

Get Started With Child’s Play

If you’re considering childcare in Wyndham or on the Surf Coast, come and visit our Child’s Play services to see what all the fuss is about. You can register your interest here.