What You Need To Know About Quality Childcare And Your Choices

Why is quality a top factor when choosing childcare? While affordability, ease of access, and other factors can impact your decision, take a look at what you need to know about a quality daycare center and choosing the right option for your child.

Supervision and Care

How many children are in each classroom or group? While the social benefits of the early education environment are undeniable, your child shouldn't get lost in a sea of other students. Most states or areas have strict teacher-to-child ratios required for licensing. Ratios provide guidelines for the maximum number of children that any one teacher or caregiver can supervise.

A high-quality center should meet or exceed state/local licensing ratio requirements. When you visit the school, ask the director (or other senior staff member) how many teachers are scheduled in your child's would-be classroom. If you don't feel there's enough individual attention, you may need to explore another care arrangement option.

Are you not entirely sure how many caregivers to look for? Ask childcare centers in your area to learn what they recommend.

Education and Experience

Now that you're satisfied with the number of caregivers in your child's potential classroom, you need to learn more about what each staff member brings to the educational environment. Again, like with teacher-to-child ratio, some licensing bodies set educational and experiential requirements for early-childhood teachers and caregivers.

Each teacher or room supervisor should have at least a Child Development Associate (CDA) credential and real-world experience working with young children. A high-quality center will set guidelines for employees and may require teachers/supervisors to have an associate- or bachelor's-level degree in early-childhood education, child development, or a related area.

Curriculum and Content

The experienced educator understands your child's stage of development and creates age/developmentally appropriate activities. These lessons can help to build your child's confidence and increase cognitive, social, emotional, and physical skills.

The center's curriculum should include an array of content areas, such as science, math, literacy, social studies, and the arts. Ask the director/supervisor for information on the curriculum or to see weekly/monthly activity plan calendars.

Quality isn't always obvious—especially if this is your first experience with the early learning environment. The center may not advertise or provide information on its staff or curriculum. If you have questions, talk to the daycare supervisor, other parents, or friends/family who have experience with the center. Contact childcare centers in your area to learn more.