's excellent write up is a great general overview of some of the childcare
available today. If I may I'd like to add my experience and a couple of recommendations for parents. (I am sorry this is pretty USA
specific - I'll gladly vote
up anyone who can give info on other countries)
There are a couple of different kinds of Day Care Centers
Child Development Centers generally enroll infants through five year olds and operate a 12 hour day. Emphasis is usually on building skills through play.
Day Care is for varied age groups (in California there is a separate license for infant programs) and the hours closely mirror the standard workday. Educational emphases varies.
Preschool welcomes age three through five (they often require the child to be potty trained) but will sometimes only operate half day. Emphasis is on academics and/or socialization.
The Co-Op takes various ages but requires parent participation. A parent may assist one day a week and help one Saturday a month, cleaning, gardening or organizing classrooms.
I am lucky
to now have both the teacher
's and the parent
's perspectives, as I worked in a Corporate Child Development Center, and participated with my son
in a Co-Op preschool
. Both experiences were wonderful
. The center I worked at strove to have the best program around, everyone who worked there was dedicated
. The co-op my son and I participated in was key
in identifying his autistic spectrum disorder
at an early age.
Here are my recommendations for finding and evaluating day care centers:
1. Check the license. Call your state's Day Care Licensing Board (usually under Child Services) and the Better Business Bureau and ask if there are any complaints against the center.
2. Take a tour. Bring a paper and pen and write down anything that bugs you - even the teeniest bit. I toured a center where there was a half full bucket of water left unattended in a toddler classroom and a pool gate left open. If you tour the beginning of the day classrooms should look inviting, at the end of the day during clean up you should smell faint bleach (a cap full of bleach to a quart of water is the best way to disinfect toys and surfaces with no residue).
3. Talk to a teacher. Or a few teachers. Do they get paid prep time? Do they get their scheduled breaks and lunch on time? Do they do any professional development (classes, conventions, workshops)? Would they send their kids to that school?
4. Watch the class in action. Are the advertised ratios maintained at all times? Does the teacher use positive language with the children or are there lots of no's? What if a child doesn't want to participate in an activity? Are children supervised and included in activities?
5. Grill the director. You will get the standard info without asking usually - teacher/child ratios, sick policies, curriculum, etc. But what about little things? What holidays do they celebrate? Christmas? Hanukah? What is the school calendar - if they close on a bank holiday you normally work, you could be stuck.
6. Look for the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) certification. State licensing is easy to get, fill out a form, endure one health inspection, pay your fee and collect your number. NAEYC certification takes three years to fully acquire with surprise inspections, curriculum, ethics and hygiene codes. If you ever have a complaint you can call NAEYC and they will send a representative to inspect and correct or report the problem to the state.
If you are looking for daycare
I recommend calling the NAEYC
directly (or visiting their web site) to get a list of accredited centers in your area. They also have helpful brochures about age appropriate
practices in infant
, young toddler, toddler
Individual State Licensing Requirements - http://nrc.uchsc.edu/states.html
National Association for Education of Young Children -http://www.naeyc.org/
National Network for Child Care - http://www.nncc.org/homepage.html
Childcare Action Campaign - http://www.childcareaction.org/
Bright Horizons Corporate Childcare - http://www.brighthorizons.com/