Ministry of Education, Guyana

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Tuesday, 27 May 2014 20:23

What To Expect From A Quality Homecare, Daycare or Nursery Environment

  What To Expect From A Quality Homecare, Daycare or Nursery Environment

- Quenita Walrond MA. Early Childhood Development Consultant

As a parent of a 4 year old entering school for the first time, I was probably more nervous than my little eager learner. I asked myself all the questions any decent parent would ask themselves: will she be safe, will she be happy, will she learn what she needs to, will she make friends, and will she eat all her snack and remember to ask to go to the bathroom! However, as an Early Childhood Education and Development specialist, I had a different list of questions, and I was on the lookout! I was keeping an ever watchful eye for the critical markers that tell you about the great, or less than desirable care your child may be getting from places that promise to nurture, care for, and educate your little ones in the best ways possible! I can share with you, that I indeed found my fair share of the good, the bad, and the they so desperately need to be shut down someone please call the Child Care and Protection Agency!

My goal here, is not to name names, scathe, or chastise. It is simply, but quite necessarily to inform other parents of things to be on the lookout for when deciding on their caregiving or early years schooling options for their own precious jewels. Now I understand the importance of cost in this equation, so a quick warning, it does not have to be expensive to be good! In some places, the price is definitely disproportionately higher than the value of education and care provided. To make the best possible choice for your child, and ultimately yourself, use three sense organs: your eyes, your ears, and your mouth.

When you walk in to a caregiver’s home, a childcare centre, or nursery classroom; LOOK, then ask yourself the following:-

  1. Is there more than one entry and exit? Safety first!
  2. Is the space safe, clean, organized, and well lit? The learning environment speaks to the quality of the learning that will take place.
  3. Is there stimulating, child-friendly material on the walls? These are the things the children will be independently using to increase their knowledge.
  4. Are there separate areas for children of varying ages (infants/toddlers/children); or walled classrooms? Developmentally, children of different ages are in different worlds and so too should be in different spaces.
  5. Are there different child-friendly, age appropriate and accessible learning/activity centres for children to explore? It’s not only about pencil and paper, children learn best through their experience and interaction with a variety of materials.
  6. Are there too many children in relation to the adults in charge? You can never have effective care, education, or management when there are too many kids and too few adults.
  7. Do the toys, furniture, and learning materials look clean, functional, and well maintained? Let’s not help accidents and the spread of sickness to occur.
  8. Do the other children look happy to be there? A child’s disposition says a lot about their present experience.
  9. Do they have clean and functional toileting facilities (change area for babies)? Proper hygiene makes for healthier children.
  10. Do you see an operator’s LICENSE CERTIFICATE prominently displayed? This tells you that you will get a service that, at the very least, holds up to minimum standards shared by UNICEF and the rest of the CARICOM community.

When you walk in to a caregiver’s home, a childcare centre, or nursery classroom; LISTEN, then ask yourself the following:-

  1. Is the space too noisy? Children become irritable and unable to focus their attention, which equals little or no learning.
  2. How do the adults speak to the children? This tells you not only their temperament, but also if they truly understand the needs of children and how they learn.
  3. How do the adults speak to each other? Children pay attention to what adults say, and how they say it, even when you think they aren’t listening.
  4. Are the children allowed to speak among themselves? An oppressive environment is one where children feel like they are not allowed to have a voice.
  5. Does the caregiver or teacher sound knowledgeable about children’s development? The caregiver needs to be able to speak intelligently on issues relating to your child.

When you walk in to a caregiver’s home, a childcare centre, or nursery classroom; DO NOT be afraid to ask or say the following:-

  1. What are your qualifications? They need to be credible and credentialed.
  2. What is your daily schedule? There needs to be consistency, variety and structure for your child to flourish.
  3. What is your approach to discipline? This needs to be in line with your own to minimize confusion of expectations from your child.
  4. Do you have a food handler certificate? Critical for peace of mind if food is not being provided from home.
  5. Do all of the adults have the necessary police clearance and license? You should demand credibility of all who will come into contact with your child.
  6. Do you have insurance coverage for the children and the facility? You and your child need to be protected in case of disaster.
  7. Why do you think you are my best option? The responsibility is theirs alone for providing a quality service…they need to provide you, the client, evidence of their good work.
  8. Any other question that comes to your mind, regardless of how trivial you think it is!!! Your peace of mind is what needs to be satisfied.

If after you’ve looked, listened, and asked your questions, and you still aren’t satisfied…MOVE ON! Please do not let yourself be pressured by:

  • Service providers to make an instant decision; you are well within your parental and human right to shop around.
  • Price; do not confuse cheap with value, and expensive does not always equal better.
  • Popular opinion; find the best fit for you and your child, not what everyone else thinks you should do, or what the popular trend is.

Understand that a child’s experiences during the first 5 years of their life, is what lays the foundation for the future person they will become. It is up to you to provide them an environment rich in opportunities for them to learn, socialize in a positive way, have good nutrition, and a strong and caring support system of reliable adult examples of responsibility, kindness, and good citizenship. At the end of the day, it is your child’s future that you are investing in when you make a choice about their early -years environment. Trust and follow your instincts, keep your eyes and ears open, and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions!

Quenita Walrond. MA
Early Childhood Development Consultant
Ministry of Education at NCERD
3 Battery Road, Kingston, Georgetown.
Read 2364 times Last modified on Tuesday, 27 May 2014 20:40
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