In recent years, there has been an increased push for early childhood funding. The voters in Pennsylvania appear to approve of the government spending money to make early childhood education funding available to all children, according to this report. But what is quality early childhood education? How can a parent know that their child is enrolled in a quality program?
As a parent begins the process of seeking out child care, several factors are taken into account – location, price, hours and the overall quality of the program. There are many articles outlining what to look for when interviewing a prospective child care provider.
Guidelines recommend looking for Keystone STARS participants, providers with education in early childhood but there has to be more than that. Keystone STARS can be an indicator of quality, as can educational background, but there’s still more than that. How does a parent feel when visiting with and talking to the child care provider? If they’re visiting a center, do they have adequate time to talk to their child’s teachers or caregivers, not just the director.
How does a provider or teacher feel about unannounced visits? This is one of the truest ways to guage a child care providers commitment to quality – if they are doing all they say they are doing, the will welcome your visit and the chance to show the quality of their program. If a provider hesitates at all about an unannounced visit, leave. It’s not the place for your child.
Quality isn’t about the stars behind someone’s name or the degrees they possess. Quality starts with the heart for child care – wanting each child to succeed, to be their best and wanting to be there to help them as they grow through each stage.
Quality isn’t the newest toys or equipment but is a safe, warm and caring place to be a child. Playing, sharing and learning through those processes mean more than worksheets and activities that rob a child of imagination. A child care provider or teacher should feel like a part of your family because, in reality, they are. Each day is spent with you and your child care teacher sharing the responsibility of shaping your child into who they are becoming.
Whether in a classroom, a home or a combination of the two, it is worth the time and effort to find the child care provider who is best suited for your family and your child. Understanding that quality child care comes in all types of forms is an essential part of the process.