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The Benefits of STEM-Focused Learning: Preparing for the Future

Published May 05, 24
5 min read

It's important to make the right decision when choosing a childcare center for you child. It's essential to find a safe, nurturing environment that promotes your child's development and aligns with your family's needs and values. This article will walk you through the selection process for the perfect childcare facility for your little one.


Understanding Your Needs

Before you start your search, take some time to consider your family's specific needs. Think about the age of your child and the type of care they require. What is your preference? Do you want full-time or partial-time care for your child? What hours would you like to be covered? Think about the location of your childcare center, and how that fits in with your daily commute. Lastly, determine your budget and what you can afford to spend on childcare.

Types Of Childcare Centers

There are several types of childcare centers to choose from, each with its own unique philosophy and approach to early childhood education. There are several options.

  • These centers provide care and supervision to children of all ages.
  • Preschools: Preschools focus on preparing children for kindergarten through structured learning activities.
  • Montessori schools - These centers use the Montessori Method, which emphasizes independent learning and hands-on experience.
  • 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 provide childcare services on their premises as a perk to employees.

Licensing & Accreditation

In evaluating childcare facilities, it's vital to verify that they comply with state licensing and adhere to safety and health standards. Find centers that are certified by your state’s department for human services or 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. The accreditation of a childcare center indicates that it has met quality standards and is committed towards continuous improvement.

Safety and Health

Your child's safety and health should be the top priority when choosing a childcare center. Look for centers that conduct thorough background checks on all staff members and maintain appropriate child-to-caregiver ratios. The center should have child-proofed areas and well-maintained play spaces.

Ask about the cleanliness and hygiene of the center, including handwashing and diaper-changing procedures. Inquire about the center's sick child policy and how it handles medical emergencies. A reputable center should also have a comprehensive emergency preparedness plan in place.

Curriculum and Learning Philosophies

The educational philosophy and the values of your family and child should be considered. Search for activities that are age-appropriate and promote cognitive, emotional, and physical growth.

Some centers place a greater emphasis on play-based, or experiential learning. Others may be more academic. Inquire about opportunities for creativity, self-expression, and outdoor play. Inquire about the use of technology in the curriculum.

Staff Qualifications and Training

The quality of a childcare center largely depends on the expertise and dedication of its staff. Ask about the level of education and certification required for caregivers and teachers. Ideal staff should be educated in early childhood or related fields.

Ask about the turnover rate and if there are any opportunities for staff to receive ongoing training. A center with a low staff turnover rate can be a good indicator of a stable work environment.

Communication and parental involvement

A successful childcare experience is dependent on open communication between parents, caregivers and the center. Ask the center how it keeps parents updated on their child's activities and progress. Staying connected to the center through regular updates such as weekly or daily newsletters can be helpful.

Inquire about opportunities for parent-teacher conferences and family events. Some centers may also welcome parent volunteers or have a parent advisory board to facilitate input and involvement.

Facilities and Equipment

The best way to ensure that the facility is safe and secure is to tour it. You should look for well-maintained and clean indoor areas with appropriate furniture and materials. Outdoor play areas need to be well-maintained, secure and have safe equipment. There should also be plenty of space and room for children and adults to move around.

Ask about the availability of technology resources, such as computers or tablets, and how they are used to support learning.

Nutrition and Meals

Inquire about the nutrition policies of the childcare center if it provides meals or snacks. Seek out centers with healthy, well-balanced options that can also accommodate special dietary restrictions. Ask about food safety and the way meals are prepared.

Schedule a tour and evaluation

Schedule a visit to the childcare centers before you make a final decision. During your visit, observe the interactions between caregivers and children. Are the caregivers engaged, patient, and nurturing? Do the children appear happy and at ease in their environment.

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 a Final Decision

Compare the centers based on what you need and your priorities. Take into consideration factors like safety, educational quality and staff qualifications.

Trust your instincts, and choose a center that you feel will be the best fit for both your child and your family. Once you've made your decision, inquire about enrollment procedures and any waitlists that may be in place. You can work with the center to ensure a smooth start for your child.


What is the main difference between a child care center and a pre-school?

Daycare centers provide general care and supervision for children of various ages, while preschools focus on preparing children for kindergarten through structured learning activities. Preschools are often more educational and follow a 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. They can provide information on a center's licensing status and 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 the interaction between caregivers, and the children. A clean, welcoming and safe environment is important. Materials and equipment should be age-appropriate. Ask about the center’s policies, its curriculum, and the qualifications of their staff. Pay attention to any concerns during your trip and trust your instincts.