Every few months I get together with a great group of girlfriends who have been through it all together – from first jobs and first dates to babies’ first steps and first days of school. Some of us have known each other since the preschool sandbox. One thing is for certain, we have supported each other over the years with advice and friendship that has withstood the test of time.
We got together this past Saturday night, and I had a chance to catch up with a friend who is a mother of two, a two year-old and a six month-old. She is a working mom and we have talked often about what she was looking for in a child care center. She made a change recently to a new child care center. I should tell you that my friends know about my work work in the field of early childhood education, and ask for my advice often, but I try not to overwhelm them with my philosophy or knowledge of child development and child care. I equip them with the best information available and then support them as they make their own choices.
I was delighted as my friend described what she noticed about the new child care center. She has noticed that there is ample room on the floor for her infant to crawl and use his developing muscles. She noticed that the teachers are on the floor playing and cuddling with the babies, showing the babies that they are important and loved. In her previous center, children were often in bouncy seats and high chairs, which limited their movement and interactions with their teachers. She is also very pleased that there is a primary caregiver for her children, meaning that within the larger group her baby has one teacher who is responsible for him all day. She knows that her children are learning because the teachers explain how her children learn through their everyday play experiences. She feels connected to that learning, because the teachers take the time to communicate the activities of the day. It feels good to my friend that her two year-old runs up to her primary caregiver each day and is welcomed with a hug and a smile. These are some of the big differences she notices between the old center and the new.
I am happy for my friend. I am delighted that she followed her instincts and used some of the information I have shared about what quality child care looks and feels like. The center she chose has earned the highest quality rating in the state, an indicator which has been linked to readiness for kindergarten and beyond.
I believe that all parents want what is best for their children, intending to give them the best start in life. In this case, a parent observed a true difference between the level of care and learning that is available at an un-rated center, and one that has earned the quality rating. Quality rating systems were devised to help parents chose the best child care for their child. I hope that someday all parents will use these easy to follow systems to chose quality rather than basing a choice on cost or location alone.
To show parents how to select a quality-rated child care program, visit 4C’s Web site.