Choosing child care is a personal decision that takes into account your budget, family values and needs, and your child’s unique personality and development. It is important to choose childcare that is in line with your child’s temperament and interests, which will help your child develop a sense of confidence and independence.
Right for Your Child
A high-quality child care program should be a good fit for your child, with caregivers that are trained to meet your child’s unique needs. They should have a love of working with kids and be willing to answer your questions about their training and education. They should have a positive attitude and communicate with you about your child’s behavior.
The right caregivers are critical for children’s development and wellbeing. Caregivers who are passionate about helping children learn, grow and have fun can make a big difference in your child’s life. The best providers have a child-development associate’s credential or other college degree, are licensed by the state and have years of experience with young children.
They should be able to provide one-on-one attention to each child, and have the time needed for that to happen. They should also be willing to take on additional responsibilities and help out with special projects as needed.
Your Child’s Safety
The center or provider you choose should have a safe environment that is age-appropriate and free of hazardous materials. It should have staff that is screened, trained and certified in emergency preparedness and first aid. They should also have a system for reporting any concerns or emergencies.
Ask to meet the caregivers and directors. You can do this in person or over the phone to get a feel for their personalities and attitudes towards children. You may be able to speak with other parents in the program who can give you feedback on how the center runs.
You can also check with your state licensing bureau to find out if the center or provider has a current license. Licensing requirements vary by state, but the more stringent a center or provider is, the better it will be for your child’s health and safety.
Other factors to consider are the child/teacher ratio, group size and types of activities offered. These factors all have a direct impact on the quality of care. A higher ratio of children to teachers means that each child will get more individual attention than at a center or home with a lower ratio.
A nurturing teacher: When teachers are loving and attentive to your child, it helps them feel a sense of belonging. This can be especially beneficial to older children who might struggle with separation anxiety.
Community connections and relationships: When your child goes to a daycare or preschool, they’re exposed to new people, cultures and ways of life that can help them understand the world around them. This can be a great way for them to develop a sense of self-esteem and build friendships that will last a lifetime.