It is important to choose a program that seems suited to your child’s developmental needs. The provider should really enjoy working with children of all ages. Whether you choose a cozy family child care home or a large, well-run child care center, it should be a loving, safe, and stimulating environment. Your child care provider should also have similar ideas as yours on issues such as discipline and toilet training.
There are different ways to learn about child development. If you have any concerns you should talk with your pediatrician. You can attend seminars or workshops at your local library or in your community. There are books and websites written for parents on a child’s growth and development.
There are many studies that show a direct link between quality child care and school readiness. High quality child care programs have a strong and lasting effect on a child's success in school from kindergarten through high school. These programs focus on all the needs of the child including emotional warmth, play, mental stimulation and good nutrition.
Child Development and Your Child Care Choice
Infants need lots of cuddling, eye contact, and one-on-one attention. Signs of quality infant care programs include:
- High provider-to-child ratio (there should be at least 1 provider present for every 2 infants)
- Special crawling spaces for infants
- Sturdy and safe infant toys
- Infants held and snuggled during feeding time
- Providers spend most of their time playing with and nurturing the infants.
Toddlers are eager to explore the world and assert themselves, while still needing comfort, reassurance, and loving care from a provider. Quality toddler programs offer:
- Physical activity (climbing, jumping)
- Hands-on experiences, with careful supervision
- Sensory activities involving sand tables, water tables, silly putty, or shaving cream
- Story times, music, and movement activities
- Language-rich environment.
Preschoolers are focused on developing friendships with peers. They are also learning to understand their families and world around them. They are busy developing many new skills. A quality preschool child care program offers:
- A wide range of activities, including art, music, and science exploration
- Activities designed to strengthen physical movement and hand-eye coordination
- Encouragement of social behaviors such as sharing and taking turns
- Unpressured "academic" activities (such as early reading and writing activities).
Your school-age child will have some strong interests of his/her own (e.g., arts, music, sports, reading, or science). A quality school-age care program encourages your child to pursue her interests, while exposing him/her to new interests and activities in a fun and unpressured way. School-age children should have plenty of social time with peers. They also need time and quiet space for doing homework.