The Beginner's Guide to Daycare
A daycare center provides temporary supervision and care for children, usually under the age of five. Many families depend on these centers to make sure their kids are safe while they work; others use them as an extra set of hands during those busy times when both parents need to be away from home.
Here we'll answer some common questions about daycare and show you how much it costs.
Main Functions of a Daycare Center
Many parents take comfort in knowing their children are being cared for by experienced professionals. Here’s why:
Teaching children the foundations of learning colours, numbers, letters, shapes, and songs are all part of a daycare center's daily routine. Some centers also offer specialized activities such as foreign language exposure or swim lessons.
Activities such as circle time, free play, and naptime help develop social skills and prepare children for the next stage in their development. Meanwhile, outside playgroups allow kids to be kids and parents can feel confident that most daycare centers have a fenced-in playground.
Many centers go beyond basic child care services, providing assistance for special needs among children with disabilities or developmental delays. For example, some offer speech therapy for hearing-impaired and autistic learners. Plus, early childhood professionals provide emotional support and guidance so both parent and child can adjust to separation during these formative years (as well as gain insight into new learning techniques).
Children learn by interacting with their peers as well as teachers and administrators. Most centers offer playgroups as well as academic classes, but small children need plenty of time to run around and blow off steam too. Luckily, many centers have both indoor and outdoor play spaces for different seasons and weather conditions - which means you may find yourself giving your child an extra bath or two after a long day at the center!
Research shows that positive interactions between kids and caregivers provide both physical and emotional benefits for little learners. Imaginative play helps build vocabulary skills, while socialization develops problem-solving abilities. And if parents are lucky, they'll come home to find their kids built a blanket fort.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Daycare
Generally, the closer your daycare center is to your house, the easier it is on you and your child when they need to be dropped off or picked up by parents. So, if you're considering a new job that requires a long commute in rush hour traffic, factor in how early/late you'll need to drop your kid(s) at their current center before making any commuting plans.
The cost of daycare varies widely depending on where you live and which type of center you select (family vs. commercial). Depending on for-profit centers' overhead costs and profit margins, monthly rates may range from $300-$3,000 per month-plus additional charges for extra activities and snacks (so be sure to inquire about the daycare's policy on food).
You'll want to select a facility with staff members who maintain current CPR certification, have been screened for criminal backgrounds, and adhere to health regulations. In fact, many states require at least one teacher in a child-care center to hold a teaching certificate and some even recommend teachers with an early childhood education degree or equivalent work experience. Before enrolling your child(ren), ask about qualifications and screening processes for all caregivers, which you can verify by contacting licensing authorities in your state. Plus, look for a center whose staff includes a director who holds a bachelor's degree in early childhood development or child psychology as well as first aid certification.
4. Child-to-staff ratio
Most states set limits for the number of children allowed in one worker's care generally, no more than 12 to 15 kids per adult. Some centers go further, requiring workers to complete safety training before caring for groups that large. And if you're particularly concerned about your child's well-being or want to be sure you can check up on him during the day, look into hiring an ad hoc sitter who will make rounds between other appointments (but be prepared to pay double the cost).
Make sure everyone working at your center takes security seriously by locking doors and windows when not in use; insisting children wear name tags (which should double as security IDs); and using fingerprint or retinal scans instead of key cards (and keep emergency contact numbers posted near phones).
The daycare center is an important part of the development of a child. The factors which make daycare centers more important are location, price, qualifications, child-to-staff ratio, and security. Therefore, it is very important to consider these factors before enrolling your child(ren) at any facility.
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