Deciding on the right care for your child outside the home can be a very difficult decision. Scheduling a tour of nearby child development centers is a critical first step.
To prepare for your visit, it can be beneficial to get a better sense of the type of center you are visiting. As noted by our recent piece on the difference between daycare and a high-quality child development center, the main goal of a day care is to keep a child safe and to meet the child’s basic needs. A high-quality center should provide much more. High-quality centers should offer a strong and developmentally appropriate early childhood education program that fosters individual emotional, cognitive and social early learning. The center’s teachers should be qualified through their education and ongoing training to effectively teach the program and uphold the school’s philosophy as well.
Before your visit, we recommend that you revisit the school’s web site. Find out what information you can. Does the school’s founder and the listed teachers have a background in education and early childhood? Are the school’s programs and curricula informed by child development, early childhood education, and early brain development? Read news about the school and its blogs. Does the school seem to understand what makes for quality early childhood education? Are teachers trained in how best to promote children’s emotional, cognitive and social learning in a sensitive, attuned, understanding and responsive way?
Your visit is your chance to observe whether the center delivers on its promise. If at all possible, arrange to have both parents attend the tour. Come equipped with questions that you should feel free to ask during your pre-tour conversation or during the tour itself. You can find a full list of recommended questions at the end of our earlier article on the difference between day care and child development centers.
Following your tour, you will sit with your tour guide to learn next steps. Feel free to ask for additional resources, including any printed material or contact information for past or current parents. If you feel you don’t need additional information and you’d like to enroll your child, be sure to ask what is necessary to secure a place. Find out where enrollment currently stands and the deposit that is needed to get on a waitlist. When you return home, feel free to call any time with any further questions you might have.
Early childhood is critical in laying the foundation for children’s lifelong learning, success, well-being and mental health. Be sure the child development center you choose understands the importance of those early years and delivers on what it promotes.