I worked in privately owned child care facilities with 2 yr olds, specifically, for several years. Every daycare facility has its own personality, priorities and methods. Few agree on even the basics, which is important if you are the parent of a child that requires either daycare or nanny care. Here is a checklist parents can work through before selecting a daycare facility or a new nanny.
- Affection: Some facilities/educators limit the amount of age-appropriate physical affection teachers and assistants show the children while others give affection freely. Determine how important it is to you, as parents, to know your child’s teachers freely care for your child as demonstrated by age-appropriate physical affection.
- Teaching method: There is a vast spectrum of educational styles, particularly in early education facilities like daycares. Many experts believe training young children in factual information gives them an advantage when they finally get to school. There are also experts, however, who believe that too much structured teaching actually works against the natural explorative curiosity of young children and thereby discourages a child’s natural creativity and development.
- Staff qualifications: As strange as it seems, all experts agree that the “formative years” between 1 – 5, (or even 1 – 3, some say) are most vital in a child’s growth and development, and yet most early educators have little, if any, education beyond high school. Most daycare staffs members receive minimum wage, or only slightly higher. I mention this because, even at this, there are some devoted educators with advanced degrees willing to sacrifice the money for the reward of teaching young children well. These are rarely well documented, but they are out there both in the daycare setting and as potential private nannies. States mandate some criminal background checks in search of child abuse histories, but if this seems important to you, you may ask about the educational certifications of your child’s teachers.
- State Laws: If you are a parent looking for a daycare facility, know that when parents are not on the premises, liberties are often taken to save money. I’m sure there are exceptions, but after all, while childcare has become big business, there is generally not a high profit margin. The biggest shortcut I have seen is in ratio-staffing. Again, each state dictates the safety standards for class size (total number of students per classroom) and ratio (number of students per adult) depending on age group. There are also space requirements per child, which is harder to fudge.
These are subjects for discussion as parents consider childcare options. Please, consider the above issues carefully before making a commitment with your child. Remember, no one can do a better job of encouraging healthy growth and development in your child than YOU. No one!