Seven tips for choosing a good daycare center arrived in the Hechinger mailbag today from Kelly Mayberry, director of a daycare in Dallas. Not necessarily bad points. But what’s missing are tips for how to judge what’s happening educationally in an early childhood setting, probably the area most difficult for parents to judge.
In the list below, Mrs. Mayberry warns against places that allow “just playing,” but in fact, children learn from both structured and unstructured play situations. Parents should also look out for what sorts of play materials are provided. Is there sand and water? Blocks? Materials to promote fine motor skills? Activities where gross motor skills can be developed? Do teachers read to children, and if so, do they lead discussions about the books as they read? The Hechinger Report offers a Go Deep section on early childhood education that includes other aspects of a quality childcare program.
Here’s what Mrs. Mayberry had to say:
1. The Center Should Have Qualified & Caring Teachers: The Center should have degreed or qualified teachers. If not – Beware!
2. Classroom Sizes Should Be At or Below State Teacher/Student Ratio: Some centers are private business and focus on profits, rather than the care of the children.
3. The Center Should Always Have Consistent Communication with Parents: Parents should be able to communicate with someone at the center about their child at any time.
4. The Center Should Be Safe and Secure: It’s best to choose a center with Control Access, CCTV, with DVR recording – as the minimum security standards.
5. Quality of Center: You should expect the center to be warm and inviting. It should be in good repair and condition – and conducive to a respectable learning environment.
6. Learning vs. “Just Playing”: Parents should stray away from daycares that just let kids play. These unstructured activities lead to many children getting injured.
7. Sanitation: The Center should have a daily cleanliness policy to reduce germs and viruses.