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.
- Necessity: As parents, you must decide if, in fact, both parents NEED to work while the children are pre-school age. Remember, most daycare employees have NO special training, and little, if any, college. These are the people who will be “raising” your child, so consider carefully!
- Affection: Some facilities/educators limit the amount of age-appropriate physical affection teachers and assistants are permitted to show the children while others give affection freely. Determine how important hugs are to you as parents. Your child’s teachers may or may not be permitted to 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. There are some that do not permit “free play.” There are others that do nothing but “free play.” As in most things, a healthy balance of both structured and non-structured activities best suits early education students.
- 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 staff 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. It might pay to find these special facilities. They 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. Meet the facility director and the prospective teacher(s). Remember, no one can do a better job of encouraging healthy growth and development in your child than YOU.