In the final installment of the series, “What to Look for in Quality Child Care,” the child development professionals at Celebree Learning Centers describe the components of a nurturing and enriching preschool environment.
Preschool is an extremely important period in a child’s development. Structured enrichment is particularly important at this stage in a child’s development as they prepare for their first year of formal education. At this stage, they will hone skills like language development and social-emotional intelligence, which will help them transition to the next big step in their education: kindergarten. As such, finding a nurturing childcare center is essential to your child’s educational future.
As you explore the various available child care options available to your preschooler, be sure to pay close attention to the factors below. Finding the right child care center for your child will ensure that you can rest easy about your child’s future learning and growth.
Structured and Integrated Curriculum
Preschool is your child’s final early learning experience prior to formal schooling. In order to successfully assimilate into kindergarten, children must be equipped with the ability to learn and grow in a classroom setting intellectually, socially and emotionally.
Child care centers with a formal schedule and learning-based structure will help prepare your child for the regular schedule and more formal classroom education of kindergarten and elementary school. Encouraging the study of concepts, questions about their environment, and general conversation will help children develop their intellectual capacity for future education through hands-on and first-hand experiences.
Focus on Motor Skills
Preschool children are eager to develop their coordination skills. Having mastered walking and running, at this age they are excited to further develop their movement skills through play, dance and other physical movement and activity.
High-quality child care centers will incorporate a certain amount of time over multiple periods each day for physical movement, exercise and exploration. At this age, preschoolers are also interested in performing more complex physical tasks that require the use of fine motor skills. Each preschooler will gravitate toward a different form of fine motor development, and as such, a wide variety of activities such as puzzles, Legos and blocks of different shapes and sizes should be made available.
Because preschoolers are developing their motor skills and require increased physical activity, they are very eager to help. They appreciate and enjoy being assigned simple tasks and contributing in a positive way to their environment, as it affords them both a chance to practice their new skills and gives them a new sense of responsibility.
You should be on the lookout for child care centers with environments that welcome conversation, exploration, and that offer opportunities for preschoolers to contribute and help maintain their surroundings. In the course of performing helping activities, they will not only further develop their social and fine motor skills—they will additionally come to love being surrounded by educational experiences and opportunities to learn.
When assessing child care centers for your preschooler, consider the following:
Do the caregivers…
- Maintain familiarity with each child’s developmental needs?
- Allow for independent fine motor skill practice in a supportive setting?
- Converse with the preschoolers to encourage language development?
- Encourage children to develop social relationships with one another?
- Have an early childhood education degree or certification?
Is the environment…
- Neat, organized and clean?
- Supportive and encouraging of preschooler social activities?
- Conducive to independent and group activities?
- Appropriate for children at all stages of preschooler development?
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 preschooler’s milestones and progress in comparison to the state of Maryland standards?
Selecting the right child care center for your preschooler can seem a daunting task, given the importance of preschool-age development in providing a solid foundation for kindergarten learning and beyond. During the process, it may be helpful to observe your child and record their regular interests and activities. Which fine motor games and tasks engage them the most? In what ways do they most enjoy helping around the house? What subjects do they ask you about most frequently? Becoming as familiar as possible with your child’s learning preferences will undoubtedly help you choose the center most suited for your family’s needs.
For more information on finding the best child care fit for you and your child, contact Celebree Learning Centers today at 410.515.8750.