It has been said that children learn more before the age of three than they will learn over the rest of their lives. We can take that concept one step further and declare that the first five years of a child’s life are the most formative and arguably the most critical.
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. You should ask who will be taking care of your child and what credentials and experience they have that qualifies them to do so. You should also find out how many children there will be in your child’s age group and the number of teachers that will be there with them. You should also ask about the types of interactive learning activities that your child will have the option of participating in during the day. 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. And finally, if your child has special needs – how will they be met?
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.