What Should You Look for When Choosing a Child-Care Setting for Your Toddler?

Posted on: 3 October 2016

If you are sending your toddler off to daycare for the first time, you probably have a lot of concerns. It is only natural to worry about their safety and well-being during the day while you are off at work. You can alleviate most of those concerns by doing your research to find a child-care center that caters to the needs of toddlers. Here's what you should look for when choosing child care for your toddler.

Training and Experience

Don't be afraid to ask the staff about their training and experience in working specifically with toddlers. Because this is an age for rapid development and may be a time of challenging behaviors, it is important that the staff understands what to expect from a toddler. Compare statements from the staff with a list of toddler developmental milestones to determine whether their expectations are in line with healthy development. For example, toddlers are notorious for being bundles of energy that learn as they explore the world around them. Staff members who expects toddlers to remain calm and quiet for long periods may not have an accurate understanding of how toddlers should interact with the world. Likewise, those who insist that toddlers comply with all requests without resistance may have unrealistic expectations of normal toddler behavior.

Schedules

A regular routine or schedule is beneficial for all children, but it is particularly important for toddlers. This is the time when your youngster is learning important concepts about time and routines. A regular schedule helps them distinguish the time of day (although they won't be able to express that yet) and helps them anticipate what will happen next. Knowing what to expect builds your child's sense of security and comfort. A good child-care center for your toddler will have a regular routine that is followed every day. This typically means a strict meal and snack time, as well as a time for rest and a time for play.

Communication

Although many toddlers are not ready to carry on a full conversation, they are making inroads to building strong communication skills. Look for evidence that the child-care staff interacts regularly with your toddler by talking to them and giving them the opportunity to respond. Likewise, books should be visible and available for children. Storytime should be part of the regular routine, not something that happens occasionally. Children who are read to and allowed to interact with the images learn valuable communication skills in the process. Beware of centers that substitute video or television viewing for personal interaction with children.

Play Areas

Play areas should include a variety of toys and objects for children to manipulate and explore. These include both push and pull toys that help to develop gross motor skills. Look for wagons or carts with ropes for pulling and plenty of blocks or other objects to load the wagon. Toddlers delight in stacking and sorting and need practice with safe objects. Likewise, look for stacking rings, nesting cups, wooden puzzles, shape sorters, and other toys designed to promote eye-hand coordination and develop fine motor skills. Outside play areas should be equipped with age-appropriate equipment, such as low swings, ride-on toys, large balls, steps for climbing, a small slide, and room to run and play.

Pretend Play

As your toddler progresses toward the preschool years, their ability to engage in make-believe play will increase. Access to props for dressing up and role-playing is vital to their development. This means play dishes, tools, and household objects suddenly become more interesting for your little one. Look for a variety of quality toys that encourage children to engage in pretend play.

Daycare can be an exciting time for your toddler. By assessing the child-care setting and ensuring it provides your child with the activities and toys they need to develop their growing skills, you can rest assured that your little one's needs are being met while you are away.

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