What Parents Need to Know When Selecting a Day Care

What Parents Need to Know When Selecting a Day Care

What Parents Need to Know When Selecting a Day CareHamann, director of Lilypad Learning Center in Collinsville, Illinois, and mother of three, decided to open her own center after hearing numerous horror stories. One mother told her that a center wasn’t feeding her child adequate portions. Still another complained of irregular diaper changes, Hamann recalled.

But child care outside of the home is often an unavoidable option when work and financial responsibilities loom. While worst-case, or even simply bad-case, scenarios abound, plenty of safe options do exist. To find suitable options for their child, it would behoove parents to dig deeper into the practices of local day cares, take safety precautions, ask friends for suggestions and trust their intuition.

Assessing your child’s needs includes evaluating her educational, social and emotional well-being, according to Sue Palmer, author of “Detoxing Childhood: What Parents Need to Know to Raise Happy, Successful Children.”

“We must put care first,” she insisted. “We need to value human input to make a child feel secure.”

To do so, parents first must determine how their child learns. Does she learn well with visuals, such as flash cards, role-playing and hands-on activities? Hamann suggested that parents look closely at a care center’s curriculum to determine whether it fits the child’s learning style. And are the lessons age appropriate?

Early learning standards vary by state, according to the National Child Care Information Center, which keeps a database of each state’s learning guidelines. In Alabama, for example, early learning guidelines recommend that newborns (birth to 12 months) be encouraged to express sounds and cries, and explore fingers and toes with adequate supervised floor time. Infants need activities that encourage curiosity and interest.

Toddlers should have activities that encourage them to describe sounds, names, things and people, while 2- and 3-year-olds should be actively engaged in activities that encourage self-sufficiency, such as washing their hands, dressing themselves and using utensils. In Illinois, Hamann had 2-year-olds working on letter and name recognition, while 3-year-olds had a decidedly more advanced track — working on themed activities that tied into black history month.

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