By Cindy Wickham, TLC Educational Services Manager, and Shari Karmen, TLC Therapeutic Services Manager
Choosing a high quality child care program is one of the most important decisions parents will make:
- 90% of a child’s brain develops between birth and five years of age.
- Education begins at birth. An infant is born with approximately 100 billion brain cells. If an infant is immersed in an environment that is stimulating, nurturing, and responsive to the baby’s needs, the child’s brain will more closely resemble his pediatrician’s than a newborn’s by the age of three!
Quality care means more than a safe place to sleep:
- A focus on relationships, including nurturing touch, is essential for a child’s physical development, intellectual development, positive self feelings, developing trust, and developing independence.
- Bonding (attachment to a caregiver) is essential by the age of two years. Trust cannot develop without bonding, and children who don’t bond by the age of two years, show permanent impairment in their capacity to make human attachments later in life.
- When touring a child care center, ask yourself: How does it “feel”? Warm and friendly? Do the children look happy? Do the adults seem open to your visitation? Do the adults look happy? Does the environment appear to be clean and sanitary? Ask to see the child care license as well as the accreditation certificate.
A child’s future success and the choices for care made now are deeply intertwined:
- High quality preschool programs can boost language and literacy skills.
- School achievement in the 6th grade directly correlates to a child’s development between 12 and 42 months of age, and an enriched environment ensures 25% more brain connections!
- Research shows us that learning to read is a lengthy process that begins before children enter formal schooling.
Indicators of high quality childcare centers:
- Licensed by the Department of Human Services.
- Accredited by Qualistar or NAEYC with a high rating (4 stars for Qualistar).
- Highly qualified teachers and staff (degrees in early childhood education).
- Low adult-to-child ratio (more nurturing adults to meet the needs of each child).
- Teachers and staff who engage in conversation with children, helping to develop language and vocabulary.
- A variety of experiences available to children (opportunities to explore, safe outdoor space, fine and gross motor development experiences, etc).
- A center that gives you, the parent, a sense of warmth, security, and a nurturing environment.
If you have questions about indicators of a quality early childhood education center, TLC staff is happy to answer questions. Comment here, email Cindy Wickham at CWickham@LearningWithTLC.org, or call us at (303)776-7417