How to choose a daycare

Many different criteria factor into a quality child development program. As a parent, you have to sort through them and decide in what order they are important to you. This will help you find the program that will best fit you and your child’s needs.

One thing to consider is whether or not the program you are looking at is accredited. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) sets standards for quality education programs for children from birth to age 8. This is a voluntary program and means that child development centers do not have to have this endorsement in order to operate.

If a child development program is accredited then it must continuously meet the standards set out by the institution. At the same time, just because a program is not accredited does not mean that it is a bad one. Many programs have the same high standards and provide the same quality of education.

When looking at a child development program you want to see that the children are generally happy and interacting with one another. There should be plenty of space for them to play and explore. It is important that they are encouraged to interact with the other students and teachers alike.

See if the program has ample supplies. Are the children happy with the choices they have? Will your own children be happy with those same choices? The children should be provided with many opportunities for self-exploration. You do not want to see children sitting down and just coloring worksheets.

What is the teacher to child ratio?

A well-run program has a set adult to child ratio and will not go over that. That ratio will change according to the age of the child. Of course, younger children should be in smaller groups with more adults. As your child gets older they will be moved into larger groups with fewer teachers.

Not only is it important to have enough teachers but, they need to have a background and training in child development. The teachers need to know and understand the different stages of development a child will go through. The expectations in the classroom need to adhere to the appropriate stage.

A quality program will emphasize all areas of child development, social, cognitive, emotional, and physical. You should see signs of this in the activities your child will be participating in and in the toys and educational materials that are present in the room.

Are you welcome in the classroom and encouraged to voice your opinion? No one knows better than you about your child. Do the teachers regularly discuss the progress your child is making and hear any concerns you might have? You should be able to drop by for visits and should be allowed spend time observing.

When appropriate, is there an educational component to the program. A one-year-old should be encouraged to use one-word sentences. A four-year-old should be exploring letters and numbers. Teachers should spend a quality amount of time reading to the children. For older children, there should be a healthy mix of activities that focus on both fine and gross motor skills.

The more time and research you put into finding the right program for both you and your child the happier you will all be.

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