Choosing an early learning program for your child is one of the most important and difficult decisions you will ever make. When researching and visiting child care centers and early learning programs, there are a few things that you’ll want to keep in mind. We’ve compiled some helpful tips and information about quality early learning programs so you can find the best match both for you and your child.

Choose Wisely

The right early learning program helps your child learn new skills and develop socially. It’s important to look for a positive and caring relationship between teachers and children. Make sure the teacher is someone you can talk to comfortably and trust. When you walk into the child care center or home, the atmosphere should be cheerful and safe. The children should be having fun playing, learning, and socializing. The program should include experiences and activities you think are important for your child. Above all, you want to choose a program where your child will be safe and happy, and where your ideas about parenting will be supported.

Consider the Basics

When researching early learning programs, it can be important to consider basic information about the child care center/home and program. Do you want the program to be in close proximity to your home or workplace? Are you looking for the program to offer services all day, in just the morning, or just the afternoon? Talking with spouses and close family can help you to narrow down your program choices based on the location or program that you’re looking for for your child. It can also be helpful to be aware of the various teaching methods and curriculum that are utilized in early learning programs. Examples include Montessori, teacher-led, childcentered, faith-based, co-operative, and Pre-K. While these methods may vary in their styles, it is important to recognize that all of them work towards helping your child learn and develop.

Do Your Research

Our Parks’ Place Daycare and Learning Center site can help provide additional resources to assist you in determining if a program is a good fit for you and your child. In any early learning program, the teachers should be caring, qualified and well organized. Take a look at the program details to learn about fees, meals, discipline, illness, attendance and emergencies rules and policies. You can also talk with the program staff to learn about their views on child development and the daily activities that the children can participate in.

Visit the Program

As you start to narrow down your early learning program choices, it can be useful to visit each early learning program for at least 30 minutes. If possible, bring your child with you on the visit so you can both walk around and look at the whole program area. Try to get a sense of how you and your child feel in the program space; you want to be certain that you are comfortable with the center and program staff, and that you will feel happy with your child’s experiences there. It can also be helpful to visit a second time on another day and use a quality checklist for guidance on what to look for during your visit. Talking with parents of children attending the program can also help you build references and collect insight into how others view and enjoy the program.

Make an Informed Decision

Like any parent, you want a program that will keep your child healthy, safe and happy. Before making a final decision, check the state’s child care licensing website, for inspection information about any licensed program you are considering. It can be easy to feel overwhelming when researching and narrowing down an early learning program for your child. With a variety of factors to consider, it never hurts to visit the program and child care center to help you get a visual of the atmosphere and how children and teacher interact. Overall, you want to make sure that the program is something that can help your child develop and grow while learning, playing, and socializing with others.

At Park’s Place, we know how important the decision of a child care center or early learning program is for any parent or family. If you’re looking for a learning center or early childhood program that encourages childhood development, contact us today to learn more about how we can help your child.

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