Fact sheets: Preschool-age children at OSHC
October | 2020
Out of school hours care (OSHC) services primarily care for school-age children. They may also care for a small number of preschool-age children.
Every child has different needs and abilities. However, it’s particularly important when planning for preschool-age children to attend OSHC to consider the developmental needs of younger children. For example, preschool-age children may need more support than school-age children. So you will need to plan activities and staff ratios that cater for them.
Approved providers should conduct risk assessments when preschool-age children attend the service. Younger children are often more vulnerable and, in an environment for older children, the likelihood of potential harm is greater.
The majority of OSHC services operate on primary school sites. These facilities are designed for primary school-age children. As an approved provider, you should consider the suitability of, and access to, facilities by younger children before enrolment. Develop a range of strategies to ensure your service can meet the individual needs of each child.
You must ensure that:
- adequate, developmentally and age-appropriate toilet, hand-washing and drying facilities are provided
- the location and design of the above facilities enable safe and convenient use by the children and support supervision of all children (but particularly preschool-age children)
- the furniture and resources are appropriate for the children’s ages
- the use, size and appropriateness of school facilities, such as the gymnasium, oval and school equipment, have had risk-assessments and risks are managed
- the outdoor environment and the size of play equipment is suitable for younger children
- young children will not leave the premises unless under written authorisation.
Planning for preschool-age children
When planning for preschool-age children, you, as an approved provider, should consider these factors:
Educators can gain valuable observations and knowledge about individual children during orientation visits. Such visits allow the child to become familiar with educators, other children and the environment. You should ensure your service has:
- policies and procedures that actively promote and encourage orientation visits for children and their families
- strategies in place to gather information about the child’s current knowledge, ideas, culture, abilities and interests during these visits.
When preschool-age children attend an OSHC service, you must ensure that the minimum ratio for preschool-age children (one educator to 11 children) is maintained.
Meeting minimum educator-to-child ratios alone may not always be sufficient to provide adequate supervision in an OSHC service. Ensure you have enough educators of the right skill level to meet the individual supervision needs of preschool-aged children.
Preschool-age children at OSHC need more supervision and instruction. The approved provider and nominated supervisor of an education and care service must ensure all children being educated and cared for by the service are adequately supervised at all times they are in the care of that service.
Adequate supervision means educators know the whereabouts of each child and can easily respond. This is particularly important when a child is distressed or where children could potentially be harmed.
Appropriate educator-to-child alone do not achieve adequate supervision. For preschool-age children, especially, educators must actively supervise indoor and outdoor environments.
Policies and procedures should clarify educator responsibilities to ensure children are within sight and/or hearing at all times while maintaining the rights, dignity and privacy of the child.
A transition is any time a child or children arrive, leave or move from one place to another place. This includes movement and changes to the activities both within and outside of the OSHC premises.
Each transition has the potential to increase the nature and degree of risk to children. The approved provider and nominated supervisor have responsibility to ensure that each child’s safety, health and wellbeing is protected. Approved providers must ensure that:
- risk assessments and risk-minimisation plans are developed for transitions
- young children are appropriately supervised by educators when walking, or being transported, to or from the service, including excursions involving public transport and public venues.
- educators think about when their attention may be diverted from the children, such as during food preparation or cleaning an unexpected mess.
Educational program and practice
It is important to consider the unique needs of preschool-age children in a recreational program. Some preschool children may primarily need a program that supports their social and emotional wellbeing and, when planning, services should:
- utilise Belonging, being and becoming: the early years learning framework for Australia to develop a program to meet each child’s developmental needs, interests, experiences and participation in the program
- critically assess the venues for excursions and the activities, both on- and off-site, offered are suitable for the ages, stages, health conditions and abilities of children
- ensure resources are available and age-appropriate for young children
- consider the need for sleep and rest of the younger children
- critically reflect and plan children’s activities based on the age mix, skills, interests and size of the group.
Education Standards Board fact sheets:
Education Standards Board
Phone: (08) 8226 0077 or 1800 882 413
Email: educationstandardsboard [at] sa.gov.au
This fact sheet provides guidance for approved providers of education and care services to help them operate in line with the National Quality Framework. We also recommend referring directly to the legislation:
- Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Act 2011 (SA), incorporating the Education and Care Services National Law (South Australia)
- Education and Care Services National Regulations 2011
- Education and Early Childhood Services (Registration and Standards) Regulations 2011 (SA).