Toddlers are curious, affectionate, and love company! If you are looking for group care for your child, here are some tips to help you find the right place for your little one to thrive.
Enthusiasm for toddlers as individuals and social beings
In group care settings, look for toddlers socializing with other children, opportunities for them learning to negotiate, compromise, and comfort a friend, under the gentle guidance of caring educators. You should also look for educators who delight in the stages and milestones of children this age and cater to each child’s unique needs and personality.
Active communication with parents
The best group care settings engage parents as true partners. This means lots of communication from the school to the family, which may include photos, documentation of group projects, or descriptions of daily activities. The deepest form of partnership includes educators who engage parents on what they are noticing at home– eating and sleeping routines, favorite things to do, what makes a child laugh and what soothes him. • Experienced educators
The best programs invest in educators, and provide time and space for planning and brainstorming with colleagues, and opportunities for professional development with experts who can help them to advance their learning. Look for trained and experienced early childhood educators with college or graduate degrees in education in every classroom who view themselves as professionals and are treated as professionals.
Safe, welcoming spaces
Look for light-filled joyful spaces that are open, materials that offer opportunities for open-ended play and exploration, and scrupulous attention to all safety standards. This means cleanliness, age-appropriate furnishings, pride of space, and a clean bill of health from the Department of Health.
Raising children is a joy and can also be a challenge. A built in network and community of co-travelers is a tremendous strength that a center based program can provide. Look for centers with opportunities for families to spend time in the classroom, weekend programs where families can socialize and get to know one another, and an active parents association that works in partnership with the professional staff. Most of all, look for early childhood programs where parents sing the praises of the center’s efforts to build community, and who see the community of parents as part of the “village” helping to raise their child.