As parents, it’s our job to raise healthy, well-adjusted children so that they have bright and productive futures. However, most parents recognize the huge role that other caregivers and outside influences have on children. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and one of the most important citizens in that village is the early child care provider.
How Do I Choose the Right Village?
So how do you choose the right village, or the program, that’s right for you and your child? First, it’s important to understand the benefits that consistent early childhood care can provide to all members of the family. Children go through critical stages of development in their earliest years and consistent, high-quality care can have long-lasting effects on the overall development of your child, while providing you with the security of knowing they are in a safe and nurturing environment. In addition to being loved and cared for, it’s important to select a child care provider who will partner with your family to ensure your child gets the best start in the following areas:
Social and Emotional Development
Having your child attend the same child care facility allows him or her to develop relationships with adults and children in a familiar, caring environment, which provides a sense of security. Children who experience consistent care are more likely to participate in learning opportunities and are less likely to demonstrate aggressive behaviors.
Children enrolled in a high-quality early child care education program that provides developmentally appropriate curriculum are more likely to develop critical cognitive skills at the appropriate age. Following consistent curricula helps children build on their existing skills and knowledge to help them meet their developmental milestones.
Children who are secure in their environment and with the people around them are more likely to engage in frequent, age-appropriate conversation. Through activities such as daily group discussions, fingerplays, songs and read-alouds, children develop the fundamental language skills they will continue to build on throughout their lifetimes.
What You Should Look for in a Program
There are many quality child care programs out there and it can be difficult to make the decision of where to enroll your child. When touring a potential facility, make sure you observe that the teachers and staff really listen and care, the caregiver-to-child ratio gives your child plenty of individual attention, and the center offers a research-based program that fosters confidence, self-esteem, and a love of learning. There should also be a good balance of social, emotional, physical and intellectual learning opportunities, and the playgrounds, classrooms and the entrance of the building should be clean and safe. You should get daily communication- both verbal and written- about your child’s activities and they should encourage you to drop in at any time to see your child. Teachers should meet with you on a regular basis to share your child’s progress. Lastly, you should be sure references from other families are immediately available.
If you follow the recommendations above, enrolling your child in a quality early child care program can be a great move for the entire family. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your child is in a nurturing and thriving environment- learning, growing and making friends to last a lifetime.
To stock up on more information on choosing the right child care center for your family, including detailed checklists for programs from infant up to school age, visit www.KinderCare.com. For more than 40 years, KinderCare has been providing parents with the peace of mind that they need to feel confident in their childcare choice. Though age-appropriate curriculum, customized experiences and overall school preparedness, KinderCare celebrates a balanced, holistic approach to child care across academic, social, emotional and physical development