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Choosing child care and kindergarten

by Maxine
Posted December 20 2010 10:48am
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When looking for a child care or school setting that is just right for your child, allow enough time to compare many, to have all your questions answered and to meet the educators who will teach and care for your child. The time your child spends in these learning and care environments should be Comfort, Play & Teach time. Be sure that the centre or school you choose makes both you and your child happy!

Note:

  • Browse or contact the Ministry of Education of your province for a list of licensed child care options in your area
  • Browse or contact your city for child care program ratings

Comfort

  • Look at the learning environment. Does it have comfortable and organized spaces for children to play, explore and interact? Are there soft furnishings and natural materials? Do the windows let in enough light? A learning environment should be interesting and inviting, and should make your child feel at home. Observe the interactions among the adults and children and among the children themselves. Are they respectful and kind? Do they care for each other? Do you feel a cooperative or a competitive atmosphere?
  • Make sure that the standards that ensure your child’s health and safety are being met. Is the centre or school clean? Are the learning materials in good repair and safe? Are the children receiving proper meals or snacks that are nutritious? If you have concerns about issues that affect your child’s well-being, find out how to have them addressed. Parents have a vital role in ensuring that children receive quality education and care.

Check with your provincial or municipal website to see if they have ratings of childcare centers. Ratings of childcare facilities are available in some provinces.

Play

  • Notice the kinds of activities available to the children in the classroom. Do the choices include math, language, science and nature, building toys, blocks, art, music and a drama area? Is there time for children to explore freely, pursue their own interests and to learn through play? Posted lesson plans should match what is being implemented, but there must also be flexibility to follow the children’s lead!
  • Inspect the playground and outdoor learning materials. Are materials like the climber and riding toys in good repair? Are there grass and trees that provide shade? Do children get sufficient time to practice their physical skills including running, climbing, riding and playing collaborative games? Children need a healthy balance between active outdoor play and more quiet indoor activities.

Teach

  • Ask about the centre’s or school’s educational philosophy. Is it play-oriented or more academic in nature? Is there a balance between learning experiences that are initiated by the children and directed by teachers? Do teachers provide individualized attention and does the philosophy complement your child’s learning style? It is important to know that your child will be exposed to a variety of learning opportunities, while exploring individual interests at her own pace.
  • Remember, a good classroom environment, curriculum and educator all have important roles in providing care and learning to the whole child. If your child is excited by what is available in the classroom, is safe, and most importantly, feels cherished and valued by the teachers, you should feel confident that your child will flourish there and that you have made the right choice!

Home Daycare

For parents who are looking for an alternative to enrolling their child at a daycare centre, home care may provide a good option. This kind of care is provided in a caregiver’s home and is available for infants, toddlers, preschool and school-aged children.

Caregivers who work for home care agencies are screened, approved and monitored by home visitors. Below are some of the advantages of selecting home daycare:

  • The agency provides assistance, support and monitoring, and aids care providers in planning developmentally appropriate activities, preparing nutritious meals, maintaining a safe environment and selecting safe and suitable toys and equipment for children.
  • Children will enjoy a warm and homey environment, which they may find comforting and reassuring.
  • Children receive consistent care and attention from the child care provider.
  • There are fewer children than in day care. This ensures that children have opportunities for playing and interacting with others but still receive lots of individualized attention.
  • Home care may be a less expensive option than day care.
  • Parents may be able to find a home care situation that is conveniently located near to their own home or to their workplace.

 

What made you choose your child care provider or kindergarten? What things were you looking for to help make your choice? Leave a comment below and share your story with parents just like you!

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