March 30, 2009
NAEYC Offers Tips for Parents Choosing Quality Child Care
(Washington, D.C.) – The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) is a rich resource for parents searching for an appropriate early childhood education program. Early spring is the time that many families begin their search for a fall placement for their child. It also is a time when many early childhood education programs are holding open houses and welcoming prospective parents who may have a lot of questions about choosing the best program for their child.
Looking for a high-quality program can be challenging with all the choices parents have. Regardless of school philosophy or curriculum approach, the most important attribute for parents to look for in an early childhood program is quality. The best way to be confident about a program’s quality is by looking for the NAEYC Torch – a symbol for NAEYC Accreditation. NAEYC-Accredited programs are required to meet 10 standards and demonstrate compliance with more than 400 specific criteria, which were created using the latest research and developmentally appropriate practices in the field. Information about NAEYC Accreditation and the opportunity to search for a NAEYC-Accredited program in your community are available at www.rightchoiceforkids.org.
In addition to looking for NAEYC-accredited programs, parents can also use the following checklist of tips when visiting programs for the first time:
- A good program will provide parents an opportunity to visit, stay awhile and get a good sense of the environment.
- Parents should ask about and observe group sizes and the number of teaching staff in each classroom. NAEYC recommends no more than 8 babies or 12 toddlers with at least 2 teaching staff. For preschoolers, group size should not exceed 20 children with at least 2 teaching staff always present.
- Play, including dramatic play and blocks and active play outdoors should be integrated into classroom topics of study. Play not only supports children’s intellectual development; it is also very important for the physical development of children.
- Programs should promote the health and nutrition of children.
- Children in the program should be engaged with one another and their teachers. Listen and watch for a happy buzz of activity—neither too quiet nor too loud.
- Teachers should use positive speech and be loving and responsive to a child.
- A good program should be able to adapt to the needs of each individual child without ignoring the whole group.
- A high-quality program should have strategies in place to attract and maintain a consistently qualified, well-trained staff and reduce staff turnover.
- Programs should have a strong connection with the families of each child and the community, as well.
- Check that the program is licensed by the state.
Parents should also think about what they see based on what they know about their child. Are the teachers treating children in ways that will be comfortable to their child? Are the materials and activities likely to be of interest and to be challenging but achievable to their child? Is the program interested in what is important to the parent and work with the family to give a child the high quality experiences he or she deserves? Overall parents should feel comfortable in an early education setting. Chances are if a parent does not feel comfortable, neither will the child. It is also important for a parents to understand that programs will not only meet a child where he or she is, but also present challenges to improve that child’s cognitive, social, emotional and physical development.
For more information about how parents can find the best child care or preschool program, visit www.rightchoiceforkids.org or call NAEYC toll-free at 1-800-424-2460. Or search for an Accredited program near you!
Founded in 1926, the National Association for the Education of Young Children is the largest and most influential advocate for high-quality early care and education in the United States.