When it comes to finding daycare for your toddler, you may be concerned about providing a supportive environment that helps prepare him or her for school. Some childcare centers, like Learning Tree Schools, offer preschool services that can make it easier for your child to transition to kindergarten when the time comes. Here are some things to look for in a childcare center to help ensure your child has the right educational foundation for his or her future.
Personal Care Assistance
Toddlers are just learning to perform personal care tasks for themselves, including washing hands, toileting, and dressing. The childcare center you choose should encourage your child to do these things independently while offering assistance as it is needed. Ask about diapering and toileting requirements, and make sure you feel comfortable about your child's ability to meet those requirements before enrolling in a program.
While toddlers don't necessarily need the same type of structured learning that older children might, the daycare center should provide some early learning programs. These might include basic math and phonics lessons each week, or you might even find a program that introduces basic words in a foreign language. By starting to learn these concepts early, your child may be better prepared to tackle school subjects in kindergarten and beyond.
Toddlers can learn much by engaging in dramatic play, and some child care centers offer a host of different options to encourage this type of play. Look for a program that has different imaginative play areas, such as pretend kitchens, grocery stores, or even classrooms, where children can mimic the activities they see adults do every day. This provides a valuable way to learn from adults while still having some fun. Check to see if the program includes costumes and pretend toys to go with every area, and ask how much time is devoted to imaginative play every day.
Childcare centers often offer meals and snacks for children throughout the day. The meals and snacks should be somewhat structured to encourage your little one to learn about staying seated during school meals, and they should include nutritious food options. Ask to see the current month's lunch and snack menu so you can determine if the meal offerings meet your expectations, and consider scheduling an on-site visit around lunchtime. This gives you an opportunity to see the quality of the meals being served.
Take the time to research every program, and ask for references from parents whose children have gone on to kindergarten. Once you find a program you like, take your child on a tour of the center before enrolling so he or she can see the place that will become a second home while you are at work.