Top 10 reasons for choosing an Educational Child Care

One of the most important decisions you will make as a working parent will be choosing an Educational Child Care center for your child (or children). There are many factors involved in this decision. If possible, make time to visit several child care facilities to spend time watching what happens in the program and to ask lots of questions. Once you have visited and talked to the director and the teaching staff, compare what you have seen and heard at each program to pick the best one for your family.  Some child care programs offer the option to have a “Discovery Day”. This is a great way for your child (or children) to spend time and  explore for a few hours the classroom routines and get to know their future teacher (s).

Making a checklist is always a good place to start. Write down what you are looking for – make a wish list of programs and services you would like to see offered, and prioritize the list.

As well, make a list of some extracurricular activities you know your child is interested in, is your child interested in music? Drawing? Does your child spend hours building complicated structures, technologic, etc.

Below you will find the top 10 reasons for choosing an Educational Child Care:

 

1. Education-focused Program/Curriculum                

There are so many different philosophies and curriculums out there today in the child care world, so make sure you do your research and find a facility that matches your academic goals for your child. Are you looking for more “developmental” or “academic” needs for your child? Each facility will have their own daily schedule, structure and activities that they promote, so make sure you know what the daily curriculum involves. Ask questions and find out specific things each facility would do to prepare your children for school. You want to make sure you’re establishing a lifetime foundation and enthusiasm for learning!

Ask about the curriculum, what are they teaching the kids, what are their goals for these teachings, and are they tailoring these to their age and developmental stage? You’ll also want to see plenty of time for free-play and a movement and fitness component—e.g., playing outside whenever possible. 

The best curriculum combines various researched based theories of early education and targets each child as an individual learner, promotes exploration and discovery as a way of learning, enabling children to develop confidence, creativity, and lifelong critical thinking skills and cover all areas of children’s development and learning.

The Child Care facilities have structured schedules that include plenty of time for physical activity, quiet time (including daily reading sessions for groups and individuals), group programs, individual activities, meals, snacks, and free time.

 

2. Licensing and Certification      

 

Child Care facilities are required to be licensed and inspected before they are allowed to accept children. Some agencies require on-going inspections to ensure that their standards continue to be met.

These are important points to be check at the time of your visit:

·         Does the Child Care facility you are considering display its current license? Some states, provinces, and licensing bodies require that any facility display their license prominently – often in the office or main area. If you do not see a license, ask – if the manager or owner is reluctant to let you see the license, check with the licensing body in your area.

·         Are the child care workers certified? Many Child Care facilities require their staff to have certification, and/or take courses to upgrade or enhance their skills. Often, the facility will display these certificates in the common area or office – do take a look at the certificates and make a note of the licensing body. As well, you might consider checking with the licensing body in your area about what qualifications are needed to work in Child Care facilities.

·         Most Child Care require that there is always at least one worker at the center at all times with CPR and  First Aid certification. Many Child Care centers will assist their staff in ensuring their credentials remain up-to-date.

·         Many Child Care facilities required by state, federal, or local licensing authorities, to conduct a criminal records check for all teachers and staff.

 

Find licensing information and inspection reports for your state and view inspection reports

 

 

3. Promotes social and emotional development

 

High-quality Educational Child Care develops programs that nurture trusting relationships with their peers, teachers, and parents. In order to learn these skills, the child needs to feel secure with their caregiver or teacher. A teacher in an early learning center is much more than just someone that “watches over” children, they are trained to develop emotional skills, encourage engagement, and promote curiosity. Together with the goals of the parents, teachers strive to give the children the emotional connections they need to succeed later in life.

When developing a child’s social skills the teachers use “teachable moments” to show children how to manage their frustrations and interactions with others. Without embarrassing or punishing the child, teachers are encouraged to teach the impact of their behaviors.

 

4. Educational Programs and Activities/ Enrichment classes  

 

What programs are offered for the children? When you visit the facility do the children seem busily engaged in interesting activities, or are the children mainly involved in free-play or watching videos?, are there activities offered that your child will enjoy? Does your child seem ready and eager to participate?

Some Educational Child Care facilities offer school-readiness programs and a wide variety of enrichment classes like music, art, science, technology, culinary art, Mandarin, Spanish, are fun, which helps students to become more engaged in their learning and retain more information.

 Enrichment classes promote critical thinking and problem solving skills, improve a child’s  ability to concentrate, and make learning more meaningful, valuable, and rewarding. 

The greatest difference between Before and After school Daycare and an Educational Before and After School Daycare are the different activities offered. Most Educational Child Care offers enrichment classes where the children spend time in a variety of activities, and typically focus on a certain subject field.

Are there regularly planned outings and field trips? Field trips to local parks, libraries, and outdoor activity centers (play parks) might be some regularly offered outings. Other trips, such as visits to a museum, planetarium, or nature park might entail an extra fee.

 

 

5. Safety and Health

When you’re choosing an  Educational Child Care, it is important to look for evidence that your child’s health and safety will be a priority

Facilities should value each family’s privacy and child security. A quality organization will have clear and specific procedures for signing children into and out of the facility. Look for information on these procedures and indications that the policies are being followed (an active sign in/out book, access code use, verification before the child can be released, etc).

Does the program have an appropriate number of adults looking after each group of children? This is known as the child-to-adult ratio.  The staff must always know the headcount in their classroom, some Child Care facilities use a “Name to Face” checks each time of transitioning from one activity to another, before and after meals, before, during and after naps, to and from recess, etc.

 Here are some important reminders and things that you also need to check:

o    Potentially hazardous items have to be kept out of reach of the children.  The potential hazards item as craft materials, teacher’s drink, teacher’s purses must keep out of reach of children. Cleaning materials, aerosol cans, medicines are also considered potential dangers.

o    Keep medicines completely away from children.  Medications are stored in an organized fashion and are not expired. They are stored at the proper temperature, (for example, in the refrigerator or at room temperature according to instructions) out of children’s reach and separated from food.

o    Inspect the equipment  all materials should be in good working condition and removed from the classroom if considered harmful or hazardous.

o    Good nutrition and outdoor time. The children should have at least 2 outside time of 30 minutes each, enjoy the fresh air and enjoy moving their bodies. Plan healthy meal options during the child’s stay at the child care facility . 

o    Follow government guidelines on which food to offer and what frequencyParents should take notice of classroom cleanliness and child-proofing. Ensure teachers are cleaning surfaces before and after meals, examine sockets, exposed wires, and windows for safety. A lack of cleanliness and classroom safety is a dangerous red flag for daycare quality.

 6. Qualified teachers           

Decades of research have proven it’s important to capitalize on the small window of time when young children learn to talk, learn through play, and begin to develop social skills needed to get along with their peers. During these critical early learning years, qualified early childhood professionals accelerate how our children learn, develop, and build the skills necessary to get along with others and succeed in school and life. Research has shown that children who attend high-quality Educational Child Care facilities  are better prepared to be successful in school and in their future careers.

Qualified teachers  like professionals in any other field, get their skills through training and qualification to develop high-quality programs that support your child’s learning environment. We also must ensure that educators are provided with affordable high-quality training and education opportunities. Early childhood educators dedicate their life’s work to nurturing, educating and caring for young children. Only the most effective teachers and staff can ensure children in their care have the early experiences they need to be more likely to succeed in school, read on grade level and graduate on time.

Good training and the right qualifications help staff to:

  • provide better care for your child

  • support your child in learning how to solve problems, manage feelings and get along with others

  • build positive, supportive relationships with you, your child and your family

  • respond to children and families from a diverse range of cultures and backgrounds.

If you’re thinking about an early childhood education and care service for your child, you might like to ask staff at the service about their programs and their staff qualifications.

Good-quality services will be able to tell you how they build positive relationships with children and how they encourage learning and development through play and other activities.

7.  Positive and Active Parent-Teacher Partnerships

There’s a lot of evidence that shows positive communication between parents and teachers helps tremendously improve academic performance. So continuing communication with your child’s teacher is essential to make sure they can tailor their approach to your child while in class.

Children with involved parents or other caregivers, have better social skills, and show improved behavior. Effective communication builds understanding and trust. And when teachers and parents understand and trust each other, you’ll all be better able to work together to support children’s wellbeing and development.

Some of the indicators that promote  a positive parent- teacher partnership in an Educational Child Care facility are:

  • Educators encourage and maintain regular interaction between the school and families.

  • Everyone is treated with respect.

  • The school culture develops a sense of community and caring relationships.

  • Parents are involved in school activities.

  • Everyone feels safe and secure.

Parents looking for the right Educational Child Care need to ask questions about how the program supports and promote a positive parent- teacher partnership (Parent- teacher conference, daily communication with the parents about their child’s day, incidents report, behavior report, etc.) Which are other activities that the facility does to involve parents with  the school activities? ( events, parties, field trips)

 

8. Flexible Options for every Family

Depending on your individual circumstances, this may be a critical piece that you will need to determine. Do you have flexibility to accommodate shorter hours of operation? Or are you committed to a fixed schedule at work where you may need longer hours for child care? Also make sure you understand what the policies are for late pick-ups, as well. Even if you never intend to be late, there may be times where the impossible happens and you will need a back-up. Make sure you’re prepared!

Will your child (children) require all-day care, part-time or part-day care, or, in the case of school age children, before and/or after school care? Are you looking for a center that caters to infants and young children, or will your needs be best served in a multi-age center, where your child can learn to socialize in a variety of age groups? What kinds of programs and activities would your child enjoy?

 

9. Snacks and Meals        

If your child is going to be attending child care all day, make sure you know what the policies are on snacks and meals. Will you be expected to provide the food for your child every day? Is this part of the overall tuition at the child care facility? If it is provided, what types of things are offered? What meals and snacks will be provided—and what’s their quality? Do they align with your idea of healthy? Will they accommodate food allergies? How are food allergies handles and are the items they offer healthy and nutritious? Making sure your child has proper nutrition throughout the day is an extremely important part of choosing an Educational childcare, so make sure you find one that meshes with how you want snacks and meals handled.

It is important that you check with the Child Care facility what is their allergy policy.

 

10. Location and Cost 

Is location your most important concern? Your commute time can be a strong factor when choosing between otherwise equally rated centers. If the drive is a long one, will you have the energy to spend quality time with your child once you arrive back home?

Is it better to find an Educational Child Care facility that is close to home or close to work? That is easier for you to get to or your partner to get to? Figuring out the logistics of how you will get your child to and from a child care facility will be an important step in choosing one. You’ll also want to consider the location of the child care facility in relation to the neighborhood it is in. Is it safe? Is there plenty of parking? Is it in a well-maintained area and is it well-lit once those early winter nights start showing up? Making sure the location of a potential child care facility is as safe as possible, along with being easy for you to get to, will help to narrow down your options.

Cost, though important, should not be the decider. Many parents have limited means to devote to child care, but there are other important items on that check-list that should be considered before cost. Of course, you want to know how much this is going to cost your family. Ask about any registration costs, the weekly rates, and what those cover. The price may sound great, but if they’re not open summers and close every day at 2 and you need full-time care, filling in the gaps can get pricey. Make sure the cost/schedule balance works for you.

Cost is an understandable consideration by families choosing child care. While rates vary dramatically depending on where you live and even the age of kids.