Avoiding Day Care Nightmares
WebMD News Archive
It's also important for children to be challenged and
stimulated mentally. This is especially true for infants and toddlers, because
they are developing rapidly physically, mentally, and psychologically.
A measure of how well a child care facility handles this is
whether youngsters are allowed to pursue activities they enjoy. Workman calls
this "child-centered care" rather than teacher-centered. In other
words, the children shouldn't all be forced to do the same activity at the same
time for the convenience of the teacher.
These activities are an important way your child will learn
socialization skills -- that is, how to get along with other kids, says Kim
Cavender, MSE, a child life specialist at Children's Medical Center of
"A lot of times, people don't think about what experience
the child will have, just that someone is there to watch them," Cavender
says. "They assume that if someone is there, and it's safe and affordable,
But it's not that easy. Parents need to visit the center
several times, at different times of the day, to see how the staff interacts
with the children, experts recommend. Once your child begins attending the
facility, you should still expect unrestricted -- and unannounced --
"Find out if you can come in unexpectedly. If you can't,
this is a big red flag," Cavender says. You should be allowed in all
parts of the center, including the bathrooms, kitchen, nursery, and outside
play area. In these areas, you should check for cleanliness, appropriateness of
toys and playground equipment, and condition of playthings.
In addition, learn how many workers are available for each
child. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends one staff member for
every three kids up to 2 years old, and says a group of about six is ideal.
These recommended numbers increase as the children age; at age 6, for instance,
the AAP suggests a staff/child ratio of 10 to 1 in a group of 20.
But no matter what the ratio, Workman says it's best if a child
has one staff member who is the primary caregiver.