25 Jul What to Look for in a Child Care Program
The way children are treated by caregiving adults shapes their development in important ways, so it is crucial to find a childcare professional who both understands and nurtures children’s learning through the everyday moments they share. For example, does the caregiver talk to your baby during a diaper change, comfort or sing to her if she is protesting? Or is the diaper change conducted silently, with little attention paid to the child’s experience? Responding to children, even when they are too young to understand the meaning of our words, lets them know that their feelings and experiences are important and respected.
If at all possible, before making your program choice, observe caregivers interacting with children during the day. Parents can learn a lot about a program simply by watching. Here are some specific criteria to look for and ask about when visiting a child care program:
- What training do staff members have in infant-toddler development?
- Do caregivers speak to the children, even babies? Do they sing and read to the children?
- Do they answer children’s questions patiently? Do they ask children questions?
- Is each baby allowed to eat and sleep according to their own rhythms, and not based on a schedule imposed by the caregiver?
- For toddlers, is a daily schedule posted, using pictures and visuals, so that children can anticipate what will happen next?
- Are toys and materials well organized so that children can choose what interests them?
- Are caregivers able to accommodate the special needs of children?
- Does the environment accommodate the special needs of children?
- Do caregivers respect the language, culture, and values of families in the program?
- How does the caregiver feel about discipline? Weaning? Toilet training? Feeding? Do the caregiver’s beliefs match your own?
- Does the caregiver handle conflicts without losing patience, shaming a child, or frequently displaying anger?
- Does the caregiver seem to enjoy children?
- Are you welcome to drop in at any time?
- Would your child feel good about coming here? Would you feel good about leaving your child here?
- Is the environment sanitary and safe?
- Is the setting appealing with comfortable lighting and an acceptable noise level?
We want every family to be connected to their community and to other parents. This is how we build our village. This is why we care.
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