It can be an exciting time when preparing for your child's education and you should start planning as early as possible. Many early learning centres have waiting lists, so it may be wise to join a few to ensure the best outcome. This easy guide will help you make your choice.

All early learning centres across Australia need to meet high standards known as the National Quality Standards (NQS) to become approved. They are rated against seven important criteria in areas such as:

  • Curriculum and practices
  • Safety and health of children
  • Physical setting
  • Staffing configurations
  • Connections with children
  • Collaborative relationships with communities and families
  • Leadership and management

The centres are evaluated and then given an overall NQS rating.

The better ratings range from "excellent, exceeding the standards and meeting the standards" to the lower results of "working towards the standards" and lastly, "significant improvement required".

You can check the rating of any center you are interested in before making your final choice.

Researching the NQS rating is a great place to start when choosing a center. However other practical factors will naturally influence your decision. You will want to consider important aspects such as the following.


Managing both work and children can be challenging. It will be more convenient and far less stressful if the early learning center is easily located close to either your place of employment or home or even better, both.

It could be a good idea to select a centre close to work if you work long hours or are the person in charge of drop-offs and pick-ups.

Alternatively, choosing an early learning facility close to your house may be more convenient if you can share the task of pick-ups and drop-offs with other parents.

Opening Hours

Verify the opening hours and the duration of the programs at an early learning centre before enrolling. On the center's website, this information is typically detailed on the home page.

If you happen to work on a holiday, keep in mind that most centres close, so you'll need to make other arrangements with family or friends.

Use this handy list of questions to ask when you visit prospective centres.

  • What are the picking up and dropping off times?
  • On which days of the year do you close?
  • Is it possible to contact or visit children at all times?
  • Will there be expenses on holidays or when a child isn't present?
  • Do you supply meals and diapers, or are they brought from home?
  • What percentage are the staff-to-child numbers?
  • What knowledge, credentials and expertise does the staff possess?  
  • Has your service received an NQS quality rating? If so, what was the score?
  • What range of ages do you care for in children?
  • How will a child's learning and growth be promoted?
  • What internal policies and practices do you have?
  • What are the qualifications for any financial aid or subsidies? 

For more information on early learning programs, contact a professional near you.