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Choosing Quality Child Care That is Right for You and Your Child


By Tonya Holt, Owner/Operator Primrose School of Woodbury

Working parents' most difficult task is leaving their children in someone else's care. Ideally, many parents would stay at home with their children. However, financial circumstances or the desire to return to careers makes this impossible for many parents. Other parents may explore educational child care to ensure that their child has a quality foundation for learning. Whatever the reason, the process of choosing a preschool or child care center can be stressful. It is important for parents to know what to look for in a good child care center.

Children need a setting where they are cared for by familiar, loving, and nurturing adults. At home, you foster the development of your child by singing, talking and playing. If your child will be spending much of his or her time in a preschool or child care setting, you should make sure teachers focus on your child's care and education.

When considering child care and preschool, parents should ask potential providers the following questions:

  • Student to teacher ratio. What is the student to teacher ratio? How does it compare to state standards? Can the teachers take care of the number of children they have? Even in group care, it is important that children get a healthy dose of one-on-one time.
  • Teacher qualifications. What are the training requirements for teachers? Is there ongoing professional development for teachers? Are teachers certified in first aid and CPR? Caregivers with degrees and/or special training will be better able to help your children learn.
  • Educational Goal and Philosophy. What educational philosophies and practices does the school use to guide instruction, care of children, and selection of materials? How does the philosophy fit with the values you have for your child?
  • Accreditation. What type of accreditation has the child care center achieved? Does the accreditation process include both internal and external evaluations on an ongoing basis? Accreditation means that the child care center meets voluntary standards for child care that are higher than most state licensing requirements.
  • When visiting the school or center, observe the children around you. Are the children engaged in organized activities and interacting with teachers? Children should never just wander, unsure of what to do next. In a well-run child care center, teachers are busy down on the floor with the children and holding babies, and the director should easily step in to help.
  • Center policies. What are the center's policies on safety and parent communications? How does the center handle sick children? What are the payment options? Knowing the center's policies will help you evaluate which child care center is right for you and your child.
  • Talk to other parents. What preschools and child care centers do your friends recommend? What qualities of child care centers are most important to them? Talk to people you know and trust about their choices for their children's care and education. When visiting child care centers, talk to parents of the children who attend about their experiences there.

Trusting someone else to care for your child is extremely difficult. It is normal for your child to take a few days to adjust to the new environment, but be sure to watch how the teachers handle your child's adjustment. Go with your gut feeling. You will know if the place is right for your child when you interact with the teachers and staff. The care and education that your child receives during the early years serves as a foundation for the child's future and is crucial to his or her development. There are many different child care options, so keep searching until you find what is right for you and your child.

Tonya is a mom of 2 and she and her husband Travis, are the Franchise Owners and Operators of the Primrose School of Woodbury, opening in the fall of 2007. There are currently two Primrose Schools operating in MN (Savage and Eden Prairie), and two under construction, including Primrose School of Woodbury, and Primrose School of West Plymouth. Primrose is an accredited private preschool with child care options. For more information, please visit their website.

Categories: Babies, Toddlers, Pre-Schoolers, Newsletter,

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