E ntrusting your child to someone else is a big deal. In fact, is there a bigger deal?
So, how do you choose the right people to care for your child? How do you know if a child care center is actually good? How can you tell, when your child is so young?
The short answer is that it’s difficult to say. There is a lot of theory involved, and yes, theory is absolutely important. But when it comes to younger children, the best care comes from the heart, not out of a textbook.
So, what does high quality child care really look like? It looks like a happy child. What does a happy child look like? Well, that’s your call as a parent. Nobody has been with your child since the beginning (literally), like you have. Nobody has insights into their character and moods like you do.
Sound a little subjective? That’s because it is! That doesn’t mean that you can’t be organized about it, though. You can keep tabs on:
- How happy he is when it is time to go off to daycare in the morning. A little moaning and groaning is par for the course, especially in the beginning, but if there is serious resistance day in and day out, it’s not a good sign. A good sign is if he is excited to go play with his friends, and see his teacher.
- How happy she is when she gets picked up from preschool. While it might hurt your feelings a bit, it’s actually be a good sign if she is happy to stay and play longer. That means she enjoyed her day and is comfortable in the home or center.
- How happy he is on an ongoing basis when he is not at daycare, on the weekends for example. Young children don’t keep secrets very well; if they are worried about something, you can tell.
A high quality child care provider is going to make your child happy by being:
- Loving and supportive. She will play with your child, make eye contact, and help learn new skills while playing. She will prepare a clean, child-friendly environment that supports exploration and experimentation.
- He will respect your child’s individuality when it comes to likes, dislikes, and scheduling. Every child is unique and they all learn in different ways; great teachers and caregivers know that.
Unfortunately, knowing your child will be happy in a child care or preschool program (and whether the child care providers are great) before enrollment can be tricky. Our post on what to do and ask during a preschool tour might give you some tips.
What do you think high quality child care looks like? What do you look for in a quality child care or preschool program?