When searching for a preschool and/or childcare experience for you child, it is important to keep several things in mind. What are your goals for your child? Why is one place better than another? Is your child safe? How can you be sure your child is learning?
About 40 years ago when my kids were small, I was the main breadwinner in the family and needed affordable, quality childcare for them. There were no centers nearby, so I searched out a family day care. The thing I loved about this home-based care was that the woman in charge loved the kids, read to them daily, and created a schedule for them. Later, after a break in care with this provider, I was forced to find another caretaker. I approached a friend from church who had kids my children’s age and seemed to have a similar set of values as our family. After several months, my two year old would wake every night saying – “I a bad girl.” After several agonizing days, I realized that the situation for day care was safe, but not at all what I would like for my child. I quickly found another that truly nurtured my child and cared for her as though she was her own.
Now that we are in the business of early childhood education and extended day care for young kids, I reflect on these experiences to try to help you find the optimal situation for your kids or grandkids. I suggest you look for some of the following:
•A clear mission to serve children
•Safe environment, inside and out
•Knowledgable, warm, attentive staff
•Good communication with parents
•Enough toys and books
•Clear operational policies
•Interaction between children and staff – Are kids encouraged to explore and question, or just “warehoused”?
•Staff with CPR/ First Aid certification
•Staff with education in Child Development/Education
There is much information available through the internet that will give you many ideas of things to look for.
Choosing an early childhood facility is a very personal experience. Please take the time to visit several, do research on many, and speak to other parents who have children in places you are considering. Remember price and location are not the only things to consider. Word of mouth is the best assurance of quality care!
What are the things that you find important in looking for an early education center with extended care? I’d love to hear from you.