This post will not be relevant to all my subscribers but, as a parent I feel I have a responsibility to share a recent experience and; advise others on finding a suitable educare or preschool for their child/ren.

When I enrolled my son at the educare he is currently attending, I was impressed by the website, the class plan and the description of a holistic approach to education. He started in the 4-5 class and had an amazing teacher who was organised, had great lesson plans and activities, communicated frequently with me as the parent and was friendly and approachable... But then she left. When she left, I looked around for another school but, due to the time of the year, it was hard to find an alternative. He then went through two teachers in a very short time-frame before the year concluded. And this year... I would prefer not to go down that road as it will result in a lengthy rant!

So what did I do wrong and, what should you consider before placing your child in a school's care?

I did not check whether they were registered. An impressive website and a good teacher is not enough. You need to ask to see their registration as, registration ensures they are upholding a certain standard of education, they are health and fire safety approved, and their staff have the necessary level of education. It also means that they will get regular visits from inspectors who check that they are maintaining the grounds and other necessary requirements. But ultimately, it is illegal to operate a school without being registered.

I did not speak to other parents at the school. It is so important to speak to other parents and hear their experiences before enrolling your child. It is like a live review and it is very necessary. I learned the hard way that the school's staff were unapproachable and defensive, condescending toward parents, and driven only by money.  Had I spoken to other parents first, I may have heard about the excessive number of fundraisers, the horrible manner in which parents are treated and, the lack of communication platforms between parents and the school.

I signed a binding contract. Do not just sign! Seek legal advice and add your own clauses or additions to the contract. I signed a contract stating I had to give two months notice in order to remove my son from the school. I also signed an indemnity agreement excusing them if any harm should come to my son while in their care. No, no, no! What was I thinking?! You do not know what may happen even in the first few months at the school so, do not agree to a two month notice period. And do not sign indemnity before you know that the school has had a fire safety audit and that they have adequately trained first aid staff on site.

Having gone through a very terrible experience at this school, I feel that as a parent, I must take some responsibility. In retrospect, I wish I had done my homework (excuse the pun) rather than being blinded by all the trimmings. I entrusted my child's care and education to a school and staff that were not to be trusted at all. Please, I beg you to approach school selection by doing a full, thorough investigation before letting go of your son or daughter's hand on that first day of school.

[Photo: Paige Wood]

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