The Benefits of Nature-Based Learning: An Outdoor Childcare Approach thumbnail

The Benefits of Nature-Based Learning: An Outdoor Childcare Approach

Published Apr 30, 24
5 min read

The decision to choose the best childcare center for your children is one of the biggest decisions you will make as a parents. You must find a child-friendly, safe and nurturing environment which supports the development of your child and also aligns with family values. This article will guide your through the process to selecting the perfect child care center for you and your little one.


Understanding Your Needs

Be sure to take the time to understand your family's unique needs. Consider the age of your children and the kind of care that they need. Do you need full-time or part-time care? What are your coverage hours? Consider where the childcare facility is located and how you can fit it into your daily commute. Decide on your budget for childcare and how much you can spend.

Types Of Childcare Centers

Each childcare center has its own unique philosophy, approach and philosophy to early childhood development. Some common options are:

  • These centers provide care and supervision to children of all ages.
  • Preschools - Preschools are designed to help children prepare for kindergarten with structured learning.
  • Montessori schools: These centres follow the Montessori method which emphasizes hands-on learning and self-directed experiences.
  • Reggio Emilia school: This approach encourages children's expression through different media.
  • Waldorf schools: Waldorf educational emphasises creativity, imagination, as well as experiential learning.
  • Religious-affiliated centers: These facilities integrate religious teachings and values into their curriculum.
  • Corporate-sponsored centers: Some employers offer on-site childcare as a benefit to their employees.

Licensing and Accreditation

It is crucial that you evaluate childcare centers to ensure that they meet all state licensing requirements as well as adhere to the health and security standards. Look for centers that are licensed by your state's department of human services or department of education.

Some childcare centers are accredited by organizations other than the state. These include the National Association for the Education of Young Children, or the National Association for Family Child Care. Accreditation signifies that a center meets high standards for quality and is committed toward continuous improvement.

Safety and Health

The safety and well-being of your child should be top priority when selecting a childcare centre. Choose centers that do thorough background screenings on their staff members, and who maintain the appropriate ratio of caregivers to children. The center must have secure entryways, child-proof zones, and well maintained outdoor play areas.

Inform yourself about the cleanliness of the facility, including its diaper changing practices and handwashing rituals. Ask about their sick child policies and how they handle medical emergencies. A reputable center will also have an emergency preparedness plan.

Curriculum and Learning Philosophies

Check if the educational approach of the center is compatible with your child and family values. You should look for age-appropriate programs that encourage cognitive, physical, and social-emotional development.

Some centers focus on play-based learning while others are more academic. Inquire about creativity, selfexpression, and outdoor activities. If technology has been incorporated into the school curriculum, inquire about how it's used to enhance the learning experience.

Staff Qualifications and training

The quality of a childcare center largely depends on the expertise and dedication of its staff. Ask about the required education and certifications for teachers and caretakers. It is ideal for staff to have degrees and training in early child education or a similar field.

Find out if the center provides ongoing professional development opportunities for its staff and inquire about turnover rates. A center with a low staff turnover rate can be a good indicator of a stable work environment.

Communication and parent involvement

A successful childcare experience is dependent on open communication between parents, caregivers and the center. Ask how the center keeps you informed of your child's progress. You can stay informed and involved by receiving regular updates like daily reports or newsletters.

Find out about family events and parent-teacher meetings. Parents may be invited to volunteer at some centers or a parent advisory council is formed in order to encourage involvement.

Equipment and Facilities

Visit the facility to evaluate its quality and safety. Indoor spaces should be clean and well-maintained, with furniture and educational materials that are age-appropriate. Outdoor play areas should be secure, with safe equipment and ample space for children to explore and engage in physical activity.

You may want to ask about the technology available, like tablets or computers, and if they are being used for learning.

Nutrition and Meals

Inquire if they provide meals and snacks. Look for centers that offer healthy, balanced options and accommodate special dietary needs. Ask about food safety and the way meals are prepared.

Scheduling an Evaluation and Tour

Before making a final decision, schedule a tour of the childcare centers you are considering. During the visit, watch how the caregivers interact and play with children. Are the caregivers patient, engaged and nurturing? Are the children happy and comfortable?

Prepare a list of questions to ask the staff about their policies, procedures, and educational philosophy. Trust your instincts and pay attention to any red flags or concerns that arise during your visit.

Making the Final Decision

Compare the centers based on what you need and your priorities. Consider factors such as safety, educational quality, staff qualifications, and overall atmosphere.

Trust your instincts and choose the center that feels like the best fit for your child and family. Ask about any waitlists and enrollment procedures once you've decided. As you work with the centre to create a smoother transition for your children, ensure that they are prepared.


What is the difference between a daycare center and a preschool?

While daycare centers offer general supervision and care for children of all ages, preschools prepare children for kindergarten by focusing on structured learning activities. Preschools may have a greater educational focus, and they may also follow a particular curriculum.

How can I determine if a child care center is accredited and licensed?

To determine if a childcare center is licensed, contact your state's department of human services or department of education. You can find out about a center’s licensing status as well any violations or complaints. You can verify accreditation by contacting the accrediting body, such as NAEYC and NAFCC. Or, you can ask the center to provide proof of accreditation.

What should you look out for during your tour of a daycare center?

Observe interactions between the caregivers and the children during a tour. Be sure to look for an environment that is clean, safe and inviting, complete with appropriate learning materials, equipment and other amenities. Ask questions regarding the center's policy, curriculum, or qualifications of its staff. Trust your instincts and pay attention to any concerns that arise during your visit.