What makes a quality daycare center? This is a really important question for parents – especially when daycare is a new thing, and they’re exploring it for the first time. The prospect of leaving your child at daycare can be daunting, and parents want to make absolutely sure that they’ve made the best possible choice before they go forward.
So what’s the answer to this important question? We could talk about the facility itself, which should be impeccably clean, organized and modern. We could talk about assistive learning devices, educational games and toys, and safety measures to prevent mishaps. We could talk about nutritional issues, and what kind of food and drinks are served to the kids. We could talk about the staff-to-child ratio, and the ratio of structured activities to free time. These are all very important considerations.
Staff education is also important – although relatively few parents take a proactive approach to finding out whether (and to what extent) the staff at their daycare center have completed specialized education or training. Here are three specific reasons why parents should pay attention to the educational accomplishments of daycare staff.
1. It prepares staff for helping children with special needs
“Special needs” is such a broad term, since every child has her strengths and challenges. But if you consider your child to be somewhere on the spectrum of special needs, it can be very reassuring to know that your daycare staff are educated about special needs and/or special education. It means they will be able draw on that education to create a more positive and productive daycare experience to children of various abilities. Even if an individuals training is more general (such as a master’s degree in early child education), this will better prepare them to help children with special needs.
2. It leads to more organized and structured daycare center
Let’s face it – some daycare centers are not very organized. Many parents have had the experience of walking into a daycare center that seems to be in chaos, with various safety concerns and a complete lack of productive, educational activity. Often times, this is because the staff members who are running the center are not educated in any aspect of child education or psychology. Those who see daycare as an expression of their career interests – and have completed some variety of education in the field – are more likely to treat their job with the highest level of professionalism.
3. It increases safety and gives you peace of mind
There are daycare centers out there (children’s medical daycare is one of the best examples) who have licensed pediatric nurses and nutritionists on staff. Imagine the difference this makes if there’s a medical issue that needs to be resolved, or if your child has specific dietary needs that need to be carefully maintained day-by-day. When a daycare center has medical and nutritional professionals on staff, parents have far greater peace of mind that their child’s needs are being carefully met.
Many daycare centers have listed information about staff education on their web sites, but in some cases it may be necessary to find out for yourself. If you’re considering a new daycare center, don’t be afraid to ask about the educational background of the individual staff members – you’ll be glad you did!