As your child grows and develops physically and emotionally, many changes occur. You will want to choose a form of child care that will meet your child's developmental needs. There are many ways to learn about child development:
- Talk with your pediatrician
- Attend seminars or workshops in your community
- Read books by experts in the field of child development
- Research child development information online
- Talk with other parents
- Talk with your child care provider
- Call us for more information
- Child Development and Your Child Care Choice
When making a child care decision, look for the best match for your child's developmental needs: Infants need lots of cuddling, eye contact, and one-on-one attention. Signs of quality infant care programs include: a high provider-to-child ratio (usually one provider to three to four infants), special crawling spaces for infants, sturdy and safe infant toys, infants held and snuggled during feeding time, and providers spending most of their time playing with and nurturing the infants.
Toddlers are eager to explore the world and assert themselves, while still needing comfort, reassurance, and loving care from a provider. Quality toddler programs offer: materials for exploration (water, sand); physical activity (climbing, jumping) and hands-on experiences, with careful supervision; sensory activities involving sand tables, water tables, silly putty, or shaving cream; story times, music, and movement activities; and a language-rich environment.
Preschoolers are focused on developing friendships with peers, as well as understanding their families and world and developing many new skills. A quality preschool child care program offers: a wide range of activities, including art, music, science exploration; activities designed to strengthen physical movement and hand-eye coordination; encouragement of "pro-social" behaviors such as sharing and taking turns; and unpressured "academic" activities (such as early reading and writing activities).
Your school-age child will have some strong interests of her own (e.g., arts, music, sports, reading, or science). A quality school-age care program encourages your child to pursue her interests, while exposing her to new interests and activities in a fun and unpressured way. School-age children should have plenty of social time with peers; they need time and quiet space for doing homework, as well.
Regardless of your child's level of development, you will want to choose a program that seems suited to her needs and a provider that genuinely enjoys working with children of your child's age group. Whether you choose a cozy family child care home or a large, well-run child care center, you can select the program that will best meet your child's developmental needs and help her to grow in a loving, safe, and stimulating environment. Be sure the provider you select has an approach compatible with your own on issues such as discipline and toilet training.