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Evaluating Daycare Centers

The great African-American singer Pearl Bailey once said, "It takes more than ingredients to cook a good meal. The cook must put in some enjoyment and spontaneity." You can apply that adage to quality daycare, too.

Daycare Smarts

  • Is accreditation important? You shouldn't put all of your eggs in the accreditation basket, but it certainly is an important consideration. It's also a good idea to seek recommendations from other parents and childcare professionals.
  • Can your son or daughter spend too much time in childcare? This is a controversial question for most researchers. Perhaps you should ask yourself the following questions:
    1. How does my child react to spending time in daycare?
    2. How involved am I in my child's daycare center?
    If your child reacts positively to being in daycare, the amount of time he or she spends there is probably not a problem. However, if your child is restless, aggressive and rowdy when you pick him or her up, consider shortening the time spent at the center. Or you may want to take a more active role in the center's activities.
  • Hands-on activities are the best! Young children learn by doing. When you look at childcare centers, watch to see if the teachers are active and working with the children.
  • Structure sets the tone for success. How much structure and flexibility a center has can tell you if the rules and routines are too punitive, rigid or lax.
  • Let your instincts be your guide. Sometimes you can't see problems on the surface, but your gut is screaming that something isn't quite right. It may be best to just go with your gut feeling. You must be comfortable and confident in the center.

Did you know? A 2-year-old's brain consumes 22 percent more metabolic energy than an adult's brain. That means children process information at a much greater rate than grown-ups.