What High Quality Child Care Looks Like

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  1. 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?

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