In the second installment of the series, “What to Look for in Quality Child Care,” Celebree Learning Centers highlights the features that a safe and supportive environment for your toddler must have in order to encourage cognitive development, exploration, and a variety of other important growth factors.
At this exciting stage, toddlers require a great deal of supervision, patience, stimulation and physical activity. They are beginning to communicate their wants and needs, display interest in playing with other children and itching to explore. Yet, the incredible amount of growth a toddler experiences physically, emotionally, socially and in terms of communication requires individualized attention and a structured set of activities and lessons that encourage further development.
When researching child care centers for your toddler, keep in mind the following features, as they will help to separate first-rate centers from the rest.
Toddlers are constantly developing their mobility. They gain a desire to explore the world, which eventually motivates them to begin walking. Because they are often on-the-go, toddlers require caregivers who are proactive and focused. Centers that maintain a variety of activities will allow your child more opportunities to explore their curiosity under the supervision of an experienced adult.
Child care centers that structure their curriculum around a mix of whole group, small group and individual exercises are better equipped to offer a free-choice environment that allows the children to choose where they want to go, and what activities they want to partake in. Allowing for more independence while closely monitoring toddlers also allows them to begin developing relationships with one another, a social skill that is extremely important for future educational experiences.
Reporting on Communication and Development
Toddlers learn at a rapid pace. They use gestures and facial expressions to communicate, as well as the language they are starting to make sense of. Furthermore, toddlers have entered the beginning stages of developing their own learning practices, such as completing tasks and developing solutions to simple challenges. In evaluating child care programs for your toddler, be sure to inquire about how language and communication development are tracked and recorded. Centers should be able to provide a list of newly acquired words and a weekly progress report on the mastery of simple two-word requests.
Additionally, it is important that you understand the curriculum the center is using to encourage the development your child will need to succeed at the various developmental milestones. These activities are the building blocks for successful future performance in a grade school classroom.
Because toddlers are exploring the idea of being mobile and developing their physical movements, it is imperative that the child care center you choose has high standards for clean, sanitary surfaces. The floor, walls, toys and activities will all be touched constantly throughout the day by small, but curious hands. In researching a child care facility that best suits your needs and the needs of your toddler, consider the cleanliness of the space. Inquire about the center’s cleaning practices. Additionally, it will be important that you take a close look at the space where your toddler will be spending his or her time and ensure that it is free of environmental hazards such as sharp edges and slippery surfaces.
When in the process of determining which childcare center is best for your toddler, use the following checklist to help you make an informed decision:
Do the caregivers…
- Closely monitor toddlers to ensure that they are safe, while allowing them to explore in a controlled environment?
- Provide simple structured activities to encourage cognitive skill development?
- Communicate regularly and offer behaviors and sounds to mimic?
- Develop supportive relationships with toddlers and make them feel comfortable?
- Have an early childhood education degree or certification?
- Participate in activities with toddlers?
Is the environment…
- Clean and hazard-free for new walkers, crawlers and cruisers?
- Conducive to toddler interactions?
- Open enough to allow for exploration?
- Stocked with different types of activities for different interests?
Is the center…
- Licensed by the state or local government?
- Accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children or the National Association of Family Child Care or their local states accreditation branch?
- Equipped to report regularly on your toddler’s milestones and progress?
There are many factors to consider when evaluating and determining which child care approach is best for your toddler. Try creating your own list of important considerations, in addition to those provided above, to help narrow down your choices and select a center that fits best with your parenting philosophy and goals. For more information on finding the best child care fit for you and your child, contact Celebree Learning Centers today.