Monday, November 15, 2010

Child Care Q&A

How can child care help my child?
A while ago, I told you about the long term effects of early child care. To summarize, children who experience high-quality child care when they are young show slightly better academic performance and fewer behavior problems when they are adolescents than children who experience lower quality care or no care at all. Although the effects are small, they are long lasting.

Can child care have any negative effects on my child?
Research does link longer hours (50-60+ hours per week) in child care with increased behavior problems in children and slightly more risky behavior and impulsivity in adolescents. Longer hours is often coupled with other factors such as too many kids in a classroom with too few caregivers or low-quality care in general, which could also contribute to outcomes like behavior problems.

How do I find high-quality child care for my children?

  • High quality caregivers should be sensitive and responsive to children all the time, not just when they're upset.
  • Look for a low child to caregiver ratio (fewer children per caregiver)
  • Low turnover of staff
  • High quality caregivers interact directly with children and get on their level (e.g., on the floor, sit at the table with them)
  • Look for centers or classrooms that have a variety of age appropriate activities and games for children
  • Look for classrooms that have activities that stimulate all the senses

What questions should I ask a potential child care facility?
Ask anything that comes to your mind, but here are a few suggestions:
  • What is your policy regarding sick children?
  • What is your discipline policy?
  • What is your staff turnover rate?
  • What is your caregiver-to-child ratio?
  • What are your safety policies?
  • Can I observe whenever I'd like to?
  • What is your overall philosophy regarding child care?

Will I miss important moments/opportunities with my children by leaving them in child care?
This is what every parent feels guilty about. Guess what the research says? Parents have much more influence on their children's development, learning, and growth than what day care provides. Let me say that one more time. Parents matter more. So feel confident about your choice and know that you are making the best decision that you can for your children.


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