When it comes to choosing an early learning center, you want to be confident that you make the right decision for your little one, but how do you make the best choice? When you have so many different options, it can be challenging and overwhelming to decide what will be a perfect fit. Selecting the right center for your child will help him or her grow and develop the critical skills needed to excel throughout the rest of their lives, so it is important to choose a place that aligns with your own philosophies around learning.
To find a center that fills all of your family’s needs and to help evaluate if the school’s philosophies are in tune with your own, we at Sandwich Montessori have compiled a checklist of what every parent should look for when choosing a care provider for your child. This is our Ultimate Guide to Choosing a Child Care Center!
1. Look for a nurturing, child-centered learning environment.
Look for an environment where each child is encouraged to fulfill his or her potential in a safe, caring and challenging environment. A child care center should provide a stimulating environment for children to learn and express themselves with an emphasis on self-esteem. Look for care providers who nurture and encourage the utmost respect for the child, his or her peers, the community of the school, and the world around us, where the rights and needs of the child are met and upheld. This will aid the child in the lifelong journey of problem solving and critical thinking, and to help develop a love of learning!
2. Ask about the staff-to-child ratio.
A very important quality indicator for child care centers is its staff to child ratio, which is the number of children compared to the number of staff. The fewer children educated by each staff member is fundamental to higher quality care. A low child-to-educator ratio allows for greater attention to each child, more individualized care, and contributes to better social and learning outcomes for everybody. This enables caregivers and educators to develop more meaningful and effective relationships, resulting in more engaged, peaceful, happy and relaxed children.
3. Make sure the curriculum and philosophies align with your family values.
It is important to select a child care center that fits with your child’s learning style, aligns with your basic practices in child development, and fits with your family’s philosophies of education. Programs should support not only your child’s intellectual development, but emotional development as well. Some child care centers may offer extracurricular learning experiences or have elective programs that can be greatly beneficial to your child’s growth and development.
You will want to look for a curriculum that has a track record for fully developing your child’s learning foundation, allowing him or her to be fully ready for kindergarten. Familiarize yourself with the curriculum program at each school you research. Remember, you can never replace your child’s preschool years, so make sure you are prepared to ask all the crucial questions.
4. Look for a diverse and multicultural environment.
Multiculturalism and diversity are important in a world like ours that is changing every day. The job of an early education and care provider is to prepare children for the real world, and the real world is a multicultural one. Multicultural programs assist children with recognizing differences, as well as similarities, among all people. Allowing children to explore varying cultures creates opportunities for them to see that even when people have different customs and traditions, they often share some common traits, too. Children learn that people can be different and unique, yet still have much in common. Such realizations help young children learn to accept differences and aid in eliminating prejudice and racism. These realizations assist children with accepting and respecting people from all cultures and backgrounds.
In order to become productive citizens of the world, children must learn to accept and get along with all cultures, races, and religions. Look for a child care center that incorporates multiculturalism into their classrooms, and teaches love, acceptance and celebrates diversity.
5. Ask about the training of the caregivers.
One of the best indicators of a high quality child care center is a well-educated staff! To ensure that children are prepared to start kindergarten and elementary years ready to learn, a well-trained staff of preschool educators is absolutely necessary. Continued training and education leads to improved skills, and research has shown that children who receive care from highly trained professionals are more likely to flourish while having greater opportunities for learning.
Staff members at child care facilities should always be certified in first aid and CPR, and they must be able to provide the proper response when a child is injured. Training for staff should also cover what to do in emergency situations such as a fire, earthquake, tornado or other natural disaster. Because emergency responses are specifically geared toward each facilities' physical layouts, every child care center must train its own staff for emergency situations. Always make sure prospective centers have an emergency plan in place and that all staff members are CPR certified.
6. Find out about specialized and extracurricular programs.
The unique and specialized programs offered at a child care center can tell you more about the values and teaching styles of the preschool. Ask what special programs are offered and decide if they are in line with your child’s needs and your family’s learning philosophies. Some centers may offer special language, music, arts and exercise programs. Some do not provide special programs or additional learning opportunities outside of their general curriculum, so always make sure you ask. Decide what is most important to you and your child and what features you are looking for in a school. Find out which child care centers offer the specific programs you are looking for and how it will benefit your child.
7. Look for a low staff and employee turnover rate.
Ask questions about staff turnover rate to find out how often employees are leaving and new staff are coming on board. High turnover can be a foreshadow of a serious problem in the center’s culture, and it can negatively affect your child’s comfort and sense of security, if changes are too frequent. Look for a child care center where the owners, directors, and staff have made a commitment to the caring and education of children because it is their calling and they love what they do. Then you will be assured that your child will receive the attention and nurturing they deserve.
The Sandwich Montessori School is dedicated to providing an outstanding learning environment for children between the ages of birth and 6 years. The school is dedicated to the principles of Dr. Maria Montessori, and follows a philosophy of child-centered education with an accent on the arts. Our goal is for each child to fulfill his or her potential in a safe, caring and challenging environment. The Sandwich Montessori School provides a stimulating environment for children to learn and express themselves with an emphasis on self-esteem.
The modern-day Montessori school environment is a place that inspires students of all ages to develop a lifelong love of learning. Montessori teachers are guides who value the development of the whole child towards his/her individual potential in all areas of life. The Montessori classroom is a place where students can learn to be confident leaders and socially responsible individuals, connected to the world of learning and of people.