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.
It is important for families to keep in mind the type of environment your child will be in while being taken care of at the childcare center. A high-quality childcare program will provide a balance of work, play and learning areas that stimulate and promote development for your child. The curriculum that the program follows should be engaging, and should include activities that promote problem solving, communication and getting along with others. Another essential benefit for children who attend a high-quality childcare program are the social and emotional advancements. The experiences gained through working and playing with other children and adults in a friendly, social, learning environment prepares them for formal schooling while encouraging the development of vital social skills.
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 your 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.
Overall, high quality childcare programs create many long-term positive results such as better academic outcomes for children, and improvement in career advancement and job retention for their families. A high quality early childhood program reduces parents’ stress as they know their little one is in safe hands, and is benefitting from a happy, fun, and loving learning environment. 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. This decision could be one of the most important ones you ever make.