Friday, November 18, 2011
Bright from the Start: Child Care
A lot of the book Bright from the Start by Jill Stamm repeated what I read in other books, but I found the section on choosing childcare helpful.
Choosing infant day care
What is most important?
1. Who the caregiver is: It's important that there is a consistent individual responsible for your child. A daycare that has the same person looking after your child at the same time every day and offers annual contracts is preferable.
2. Child to caregiver ratio: It should be 1:3 when a child is between 6 to 15 months old according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. (This is also specified by the National Association for the Education of Young Children if the group size is 6 children or fewer.)
3. General environment: It should be safe, bright colorful and inviting.
4. Personal contact: Infants need hugging, holding, and rocking. They also need to be talked to regularly.
5. Openness: You should be able to drop by whenever you wish.
What is less important?
1. The physical building - as long as it is safe
2. New or fancy toys: They should be plentiful, age appropriate, and in good condition. There should NOT be a television!
3. Advanced degrees - as long as they have a basic understanding of brain development and affection for babies
4. Schedules - babies have individual sleeping and eating needs
5. A strong academic program: a play-based curriculum is preferable to formal academic instruction
Other factors to consider:
1. Distance from work or home
2. Licensing and accreditation: the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the highest standard in the childcare industry
3. Cost: higher cost doesn't necessarily mean better quality of care. but paying for a consistent individual giving your child individual attention and responsive care is worth paying for
Interview the Caregiver
- Do they have enough time to love and care for all the children they are responsible for?
Observe the Caregiver
- Do they speak directly to the children? Do they seem to genuinely enjoy them?
- A checklist of what to look for when observing a caregiver interact with a child from the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development's Early Child Care Research Network:
a. Caregiver responds to the child's vocalizations
b. Caregiver asks the child questions
c. Caregiver praises and says something affectionate to child
d. Caregiver teaches the child
e. Caregiver directs other positive talk to the child (describing objects or events, comforts or entertains the child, sings a song, tells a story)
f. Caregiver doesn't use negative or directive talk towards the child
Share your expectations
- Have toys on hand that encourage brain-based play (mirrors, colorful books, ...)
- Let them know that developing routins and bonding with your baby is important
- Encourage tummy time (and sleeping on their back)
- Let them know what information you'd like at pick up - what do you want them to tell you about your child? (attention, interests, diet, naps, ...)
Don't be jealous
Toddler Daycare (age 2 and beyond)
- Brain specific things to look for:
a. Caregivers who hug, let children climb in their laps, etc...
b. Ratio of 1:4 for 2 years old and 1:7 for 3 year olds
c. An expanding variety of materials: tactile, blocks, art supplies, dress-up, pretend play
d. Child-directed pace
Make changes thoughtfully
- Is your child happy?