Choosing Daycare Programs: What Should You Look For?

Daycare programs provide a caring place for your child to go when you're at work or at school. That means choosing the "just right" child care center is absolutely essential. You want to feel comfortable with the people who you leave your child with, and you want to make sure that your child is both well-cared for and getting the chance to learn and develop. What should you look for in a daycare?

Teacher and Staff Qualifications

Who is caring for your child? Unlike teachers who work in elementary, middle, and high schools, early childhood educators vary widely when it comes to training and expertise. Most daycares don't have to require teaching certification. That means the staff members may or may not have specialized training in child development, instructional practices, or early childhood education.

When you're choosing a daycare, look for a center that has a qualified staff. This means teachers and caregivers who have at least some formal background in child development or early care. This might include a bachelor's degree, an associate's degree, some college courses, a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential or a similar type of education. The teachers and staff should also have experience working with young children — either as a student teacher, from years working in daycare programs, or in some sort of internship/externship experience.

The Curriculum

What is your child doing all day? The childcare center should have some sort of curriculum or activity plan in place that promotes development. This includes social, emotional, cognitive and physical development. Depending on the age group, you should see activities in a variety of subject areas, such as early literacy, math, science, social studies, and the arts.

If the center doesn't have an actual curriculum book or guide to look at, ask for a verbal description or take some time to observe their classes in action.

The Center's Environment

What does the daycare's space look like? Keep in mind that this includes both the interior and exterior spaces. The interior should be clean, well-maintained (meaning that there aren't cracked walls, peeling paint, or similar issues) and made for a child-sized audience. The chairs and tables should clearly fit young children, and there should be toys/playthings in reach of the children.

The exterior should also be well-maintained and free from debris. If the center has a play yard, the ground area should have some sort of shock-absorbing material on it (such as mulch or specially made outdoor flooring). You shouldn't see weeds, cracks in walkways, obstacles, or discarded toys sitting out.

Along with the staff qualifications, the curriculum, and the center's space, the right daycare program for your child should feel comfortable — to you. Just because a center is highly recommended by your friends or neighbors doesn't necessarily mean it's a perfect fit for your child. You have your own opinions, beliefs, and values. These all play into which program works for you, your family, and your child. 

About Me

Understanding Early Childhood Education

Hello, my name is Derrick. Welcome to my site about early child education courses. When I was raising my two young kids, I learned all about the importance of early child education. I helped my kids learn how to read and do arithmetic by the age of four. With my support, my kids developed a deep love for learning that has benefited them throughout life. On this site, I will talk about all of the different approaches you can use to help your own children embrace learning from an early age. With some luck and hard work, your kids will have a life-long love of learning.