The age that children start school in Australia varies from state to state. On average a child will usually start Kindergarten in the year they reach their 4th birthday before 30th June, and start formal Pre-Primary in following year.
Prior to this age, there are a number of options open to parents however without full residency qualification, all child care costs must be met privately.
The most consistent form of childcare has to be the nanny who will work either solely for you in your own home or may offer a nanny share facility looking after more than one child. A nanny share helps spread the cost of childcare and also increases the amount of interaction your child has with others of a similar age.
A lot of expats do opt for a nanny when they move to Australia as it provides more flexibility when starting out before you have a solid idea of working hours or travelling times.
A nanny also becomes incredibly useful when your child is ill, when they would be unable to attend regular day care facilities, but with the absence of friends and family to help, carrying on your own responsibilities can be challenging, if not impossible.
Use a formal agency to commission any nanny that you choose to ensure that your care giver has been completely vetted and is fully qualified. A good Australian nanny should hold a TAFE (Technical Australian Federation of Education) which is a two year qualification equivalent to a British BTEC.
Your agency should also formalise a working agreement between yourselves detailing any light household chores required as well as confirming working hours. Be aware children are placed in childcare in the UK on average significantly longer than most other countries which means you will need to ensure all timings agreed fit with both yours and your nanny’s expectations.
Long Day Care
For a more standard day care facility provided on location at a nursery or kindergarten, use the Government provided http://www.mychild.gov.au/ which details the availability of long day, family day and occasional day care services across the country.
This site provides guidelines on the kind of fees you can expect to pay which in a long day care option available for up to 10 hours per day with all nappies, food and education services included in Sydney can cost on average between AUS$110 and AUS$130 per day.
Look for the formal ACECQA (Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority) accreditation in any nursery which works in a similar way to the British OFSTED to assess the quality of the care and services provided so that you can make the right decision for you and your child.
There are also a wide range of informal child development sessions that you can attend with your toddler. These include music and singing classes, imaginative play as well as art and crafts facilities and many more.
Playgroup sessions are a great way of meeting other parents in your local area and http://www.playgroupaustralia.com.au/ can provide you with details of local groups as well as information on PlayConnect which provides activities for families who have children with autism.
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