While no one can replace you, quality child care will offer your child a stimulating, nurturing environment which should help prepare him for school and to reach his full potential.
So what exactly is quality child care? Well, quality is defined as a degree of excellence. This means not average, not “it will do” child care, but excellent child care. Bottom line, you need to feel that the child care provider you select will offer a safe and stimulating, loving environment in which your child will mentally and physically thrive.
Characteristics of quality
As you begin your search, here’s what to look for in quality child care:
- Settings that are safe and provide small group sizes and adult-to-child ratios encouraging the best opportunities for development;
- Caregivers or teachers who have experience and are trained in early childhood development;
- Settings that offer opportunities for meaningful parent involvement;
- Learning materials and teaching styles that are age-appropriate and respectful of children’s cultural and ethnic heritage; and
- Learning opportunities that promote your child’s success in school.
(Adapted from “What are the benefits of high quality?” National Association for the Education of Young Children, 1313 L Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, D.C. 20005)
It’s never too early to start your child care search
One thing is certain: you can never begin your child care search too soon. If possible, start your child care search at least six months before you need the care. The more time and thought you put into choosing your provider, the better you’ll feel with your choice. One of the best places to find help is your local resource and referral agency.