Why Home-based Childcare?

A low child/adult ratio enables home educators to adjust the care and education to meet the individual needs, routines and interests of each child. As we are licensed by the Ministry of Education to provide Auckland childcare, our educators can only care for up to four children under six years, only two of which can be under two years. This is significantly lower than most centre-based services which can have as many as five children under two years per adult and 10-15 children over two years.

Children cared for in a home environment gain social skills by interacting with other children in small groups during shorter periods of time through pastimes such as the activity groups we offer. We also encourage our educators to take advantage of services like Playcentre, which we pay for.

Research has long established the importance of children forming secure relationships with the people in their lives during their early years. These relationships form the foundation for attitudes and behaviour in relationships later on. In centres, children are often cared for by several different people throughout the day, limiting the reliability and security of relationships they can form. In addition, there are often frequent staff changes within a centre. Home-based early childhood education usually involves the same educator consistently caring for the child, therefore developing a warm and predictable relationship.

Home-based care generally provides more flexibility for parents as the hours and fees are negotiated directly with the family’s educator. We are a licensed 24/7 Auckland childcare provider meaning that parents do not have to try to fit their schedules into the strict opening hours of a centre.

Do children feel more comfortable in day-care centres or in home-based environments?

Investing in home-based care is beneficial for the child. Research by Leiden education specialists led by Professor Rien van Ijzendoorn shows that home-based childcare has a number of advantages over daycare centres:

  • The children have a higher level of wellbeing
  • The carers are more sensitive
  • There is less noise

The quality of childcare can play a significant role in promoting wellbeing and reducing the stress levels of young children. This research therefore also examined the quality of the childcare.  The study covered a number of structural characteristics (such as group size), process quality (for example, language stimulation), the sensitivity of the carers (the extent to which they responded adequately to signals from the child), and the quality of the physical environment (in particular the noise).

The study was conducted among 116 children aged between 1½ and 3½ years of age in 26 daycare centres and 55 home-based environments spread throughout the Netherlands.  The wellbeing of the children is the degree to which they felt safe and relaxed, and enjoy the activities in which they were involved. The wellbeing of the children, the sensitivity of the carers and the quality of the care were observed during visits to the daycare centres and the home-based environments. The stress levels of children are determined by the hormone ‘cortisol’.  The production of cortisol follows a 24-hour rhythm, whereby cortisol levels should reduce over the course of the day.  Cortisol levels were measured at the daycare centres and at home, so that a comparison could be made.

The study showed that high noise levels and over-stimulation often cause children to have increased stress levels. This affects their neurological development and can lead to problems coping with stress later in life. In home-based early childhood education, stress is significantly lower for children. Although stimulation is important, research shows that the appropriate type and quality of stimulation is more important.

As expected, considerable differences were observed in home-based childcare and day-care centres in terms of group size and the relationship between the number of carers and the number of children.  In  home-based care, there were on average three children to one carer; in the day-care centres there were on average eleven children to two childcare staff.

Home-based care appears to be more favourable than daycare centres: the children in home-based care demonstrate on average a higher level of wellbeing, the carers are more sensitive and there is less noise than in the day-care centres. The children in home-based care demonstrate a higher level of wellbeing with a carer who is more sensitive to the child’s needs.  In the day-care centres, there is no correlation between sensitivity and wellbeing.

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