The brain develops the most during the first 5 years of a child’s life. During these early years, a child needs love and nurturing – both at home and in social settings – in order to thrive and grow. When a child feels loved and cared for, they feel as if they belong and become confident, encouraging them to participate and learn in any situation. With more families relying on the services of a high quality child care center, it’s important that the facility they choose can provide that all-important loving and nurturing environment – one that encourages learning and exploration.
The child care environment should provide work, play and learning areas that are stimulating but also meet the developmental needs of each child. And while each child’s specific needs should be met, the learning environment should also encourage and support children who thrive in learning in a group environment as well. When deciding on the best child care center for you and your child, pay close attention to the type of environment your child will be in during his or her time there and what kind of curriculum is followed. There should be opportunities for dramatic (pretend) play, creative art activities, building and construction activities, and opportunities to be read to, just to name the basics.
Deciding when to start looking for a center is solely based on each family’s unique circumstances. Some families may have the opportunity for someone to stay with their children during the first few months to years of their lives and not need childcare until later, where other families may need childcare right away. Some families also may not be happy with their current childcare provider and will need to start researching for a new one. Though it will be different for each family, once you know you are interested in looking at a childcare center, we suggest beginning as soon as possible to allow yourself enough time to get to understand fully what the centers you are interested in have to offer. Taking the time to do your research will not only help you make a confident decision regarding where you will be bringing your child, but it will also be beneficial transitioning your child to a center knowing they will be in capable hands.
When deciding on a childcare center, we suggest:
- Make a list of what’s important to you. Are you looking for a center that has a strong curriculum or is accredited? Are you looking for a center that provides your child with opportunities to thrive in a social environment? Even if you jot down a few things that are important to you, at least you will have a guide to determine which centers to continue considering and which don’t meet your needs.
- Do you research. There is so much you can do to find out more about a center. Reach out to people you may know who has a child attending the center or reach out to someone in the community to get recommendations. Check online reviews and research their website and social media pages.
- Check out the center. Reach out to the center for more information and be sure to schedule a tour. This gives you the opportunity to meet the staff and teachers and see the environment. Bring a list of questions with you that you’d like to ask a staff member or the teachers. Don’t be afraid to ask them about policies, safety procedures, tuition cost, experience and background of the teachers, or what a typical day would look like for your child. When you leave the tour, you should feel confident knowing what the center would provide a family, despite if it fits what your family is looking for or not.
If child care is a necessity for your family, don’t settle for the first one that you come to. Take the time to get to know the center, its people, and its policies.
What are some of the most important features you look for in a childcare center?