Choosing the right childcare provider is one of the most important decisions parents face as they determine what is best for their child’s early development needs.
This may be the first time your child will be receiving care outside the home or entering into a new learning environment and you want peace of mind in your choice of caregivers.
What does quality care mean to you?
Make a list of factors that are most important to you to help define your expectations of a high quality early education childcare center. Keep in mind attributes that will fit your family dynamic and culture and also identifies your child’s emotional, intellectual, physical, and social needs.
Next, make a list of characteristics for your ideal childcare provider and seek out information from family and friends. Those you know best often share similar values and goals to offer helpful insight by referencing their own experiences. On-line research should provide an overview of each childcare’s philosophy, fees, schedule, policies, programs and other general information regarding a typical day.
Schedule a Tour
Visiting your “short list” of family- focused childcare centers gives you the opportunity to get a feel for the significance of staff, learning environment, health & safety, as well as parent involvement & communication.
Does the staff provide a warm and inviting welcome for you and your child?
Does the staff demonstrate passion and heart in nurturing the children in their care? Are relationships with primary caregivers emphasized?
Does the staff encourage positive interaction with children?
Does the staff follow a relationship-based care philosophy such as the Program for Infant & Toddler Care (PITC) wellness model?
Does the staff provide Continuity of Care to nurture positive relationships, instill confidence and offer a consistent environment to positively affect the children’s emotional and intellectual development?
- Does the center offer staff development and opportunities for ongoing training on early childhood education and development?
- Is the environment child-focused with creative play-based curriculum to encourage discovery and hands-on
learning fun? Is there time for the children to explore, play and learn at their own pace?
- Is there a daily routine in place to create a sense of order that builds a child’s sense of security? Does the classroom routine flow with each child’s individual needs?
- Are meaningful interactions that “bathe children in language” emphasized?
- Does the environment instill a sense of belonging and connect children to plants, animals, and nature?
- Do the children seem comfortable, happy, active and engaged?
Health & Safety
- Is the facility clean, safe, and well organized?
- Are the children well supervised and visible at all times?
- Does the center provide written information about program policies that support children’s health, safety, and nutrition?
Parent Involvement & Communication
- Are individual family cultures honored and are families included as partners in care?
- Is parent participation encouraged and does the center offer opportunities for parents to share in activities with their children?
- Does the center emphasize transparent and collaborative communication between staff and families?
- Do teachers communicate with daily news about your child as well as with weekly and monthly newsletters so that parents remain up to date with important information?
Trust your Intuition!
After touring your “short list” of centers, one amazing experience will stand out above the rest as the right fit for your family. Ultimately, it is this connection that will reassure your heart that you have found the right caregivers to inspire your child to play, learn, tinker, and grow!