Selecting a quality child care center
Selecting a quality child care center is difficult and requires research! With over thirty years working in the early childhood field, I know quality!
Match Your Own Family’s Needs When Selecting a Quality Child Care Center
Check out the printable list on my website. Selecting a Child Care Center.
Selecting a Quality Child Care Center
Research documents the importance of quality child care. In addition to social skills, children gain cognitive, motor, creative, and emotional skills by experiencing a quality childhood setting. A child’s brain is like a sponge. Make sure that you surround your child with learning experiences. The teacher is the stage manager! She arranges the space. In addition, she allows for rich play opportunities. The teacher encourages, prompts, questions, congratulates, and enhances children’s play.
Visit Multiple Facilities
Visit multiple sites. You will discover positive and negative things about every center. As a way to ask questions, make an appointment with the Director. Request time to visit the space that your child would be assigned, if you enroll.
A Quality Setting Will Include:
On the Outside
- A safe parking lot. Is your child safe from approaching vehicles when entering and existing the building?
- The playground ample equipment and shade. Does someone checks the playground for hazards on a regular basis?
- A facility that is clean and inviting.
On the Inside
- Upon entering the building, the noises are from happy and engaged children. The teachers are soft spoken and encouraging.
- The sign-in and out procedure are strictly followed.
- All storage closets are locked.
- The fire inspection is posted and fire extinguishers are present.
- The teachers have degrees and credentials in the early childhood field. The teachers have a history of long-term employment at the center.
- The center is licensed with the state, if applicable to your area. Look up the state requirements.
- A health and safety inspection is posted in the building if applicable for your state.
- The center’s philosophy is that children learn from the process instead of the product. You don’t want a center that sends home patterned art projects.
- There are many supplies on the shelves. You see lots of books in good condition, large supply of blocks, art supplies, drama play items, etc.
After you have narrowed down your search, make unannounced visits to the sites just to get a feel of the day.
- Are the children engaged in play or teacher lead activities?
- Do you hear soft voices?
- Is the space neat and clean with a variety of things for the children to do?
- Are the teachers interacting with the children?
What Type of Child Care Center Do You Want?
During your visits, you will see faith based centers, chain operated centers, non-profit and for-profit centers. Of course, you may want a large center with all the bells and whistles or you may be looking for a homey atmosphere. Again, this is a personal choice.
Start Out Slowly
Many times during my experiences as a director, parents were surprised to hear me suggest that their child begin on a part-time basis. I explained that it would be helpful for their child to become accustomed to center.
Number One Aspect of Any Center
The best indicator for quality is the education of the staff. With an educated staff, the teachers and director will know and understand the importance of providing a quality space which includes a nurturing and safe place.
Look for Degrees in the Early Childhood Education Field
With degrees in early childhood education, child development, and special needs, the teacher will know and understand brain development, ages and stages, the developmental domains, positive discipline practices, safety and nutrition, literacy, special needs, family communication, and much more. With their education, the teachers will provide an appropriate environment to ALL children. The teacher will plan activities that are educational. She will notice any delays in the child. An educated teacher will be in tune to safety procedures. She will know and understand brain development.
Children Learn Through Play
Children learn through play. It may be difficult for parents to understand how much learning takes play during free play at well-stocked centers. The center you select should have the philosophy that play is the vehicle that drives children.
Look at the Room Layout
As a former child care center owner, I turned to many of the supply catalogs for purchases. One of those suppliers was Kaplan. After clicking on the name, you will be able to view some online suggested room arrangements, curriculum materials, educational toys, and other needs by visiting the site.
From the website Zero-to-Three, there is a checklist of things to look for when selecting a quality child care center. This site includes more lists of important information that you need to be aware of before registering your child at a center.
- Do caregivers speak to the children, even babies?
- Are the teachers responding by answering children’s questions patiently?
- Do they ask children questions?
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
- Does the environment appear sanitary and safe?
- Is the setting appealing with comfortable lighting and an acceptable noise level?
Go to my Checklist
Again, go to my page for the check list. I hope this help you find the perfect child care center. I would love to hear from you.
Wanda Wyont, MA
Wanda Wyont is experienced working in child care centers. She owned an accredited center and she was the Department Chair of the Early Childhood Program at Gaston College. Her program was one of the first thirteen community college programs in the nation to earn National Accreditation with the National Association for the Education of Young Children.