There are plenty of day cares out there with lovely toys and friendly teachers. But, these are just two things that a day care ought to offer. Here are a few more services a quality child care centre should offer parents and children alike.
1. Organisation and a Well-Planned Day
Since young children feel safe when they have predictable, structured days, the day care centre you choose should offer clear programs and plans. Well-run centres will offer a posted lesson plan, so you know exactly what your child will be doing each day. The lessons don’t have to be elaborate, but they should be appropriate to your child’s development stage and enjoyable, too.
2. Low Child-to-Staff Ratios
It is recommended that day care centres offer a child-to-staff ratio of about 3 to 1 and, ideally, small group sizes, as offered at Guardian child care centres in Melbourne.
3. Trained Caregivers Who Really Care
Day care centre providers should employee staff that have appropriate child-development associate’s credentials to ensure they know what kind of interactions children require. An educator who loves his or her job counts, too, since caregivers that are responsive and loving tend to encourage more positive interactions amongst children.
4. A Creative Environment
An environment that builds creativity is not necessarily one with all the latest gadgets. Children need a range of creative activities, like a dress-up corner and building blocks. They need to experience things they may not be able to at home, from squeezing mud between their toes to watching hermit crabs or building sand castles. A good day care centre will offer a well-organised space stocked with a wide range of age-appropriate toys and materials. Talk to the staff about weekly and daily schedules, and ensure there are plenty of activities such as dramatic play, reading, music, art, and even outdoor play. Reading should be included in the schedule a couple of times a day.
5. Other Activities That Should Be Offered
A good child care centre will offer a wide variety of appropriate activities to encourage a child’s creative, listening, communication, and social skills, along with his or her emotional and physical development. A good centre will keep parents informed of special events that are coming, too, so that you can help get your child excited about them. These include events like a summer teddy bear’s picnic or an Easter Egg hunt, or even religious-appropriate celebrations.
It’s important to remember that children learn through play, so the child care centre you pick should place a high value of simple activities, such as:
- Cooking simple dishes or baking
- Playing with the playhouse, water table, or sand pit
- Singing nursery rhymes and other songs
- Sticking, gluing, painting, and drawing
- Doing puzzles and jigsaws
- Moving and dancing to songs
- Creating with play dough and construction blocks
- Reading and listening to stories
It’s important to pick a centre that offers plenty of culturally diverse and age-appropriate books and toys, too, that will serve to boost a child’s development while encouraging and stimulating imaginative play.