Recent decades have seen a major shift in what constitutes a typical American family. Gone are the days when fathers alone worked to support a family, leaving a mother at home to care for the children and keep house. Today, many two parent homes consist of two working parents, and many other homes consist of one parent caring for his or her children. It only stands to reason that nationally, more than 80 percent of children attend daycare at some point before they reach the age of four.
Another major change has seen daycare facilities adding preschool components to their services, helping to prepare children for kindergarten. A parent’s decision when selecting a child care facility is a major one, effecting not only the well being of a child during daycare attendance, but determining how they will transition into a school environment. Daycare programs and preschools provide not only academic learning like the alphabet, counting, and shape recognition, but important social skills. These skills have been judged to be even more essential to early childhood development than academic skills.
A typical day in daycare varies from facility to facility, but there are particular components parents should consider when selecting child care. What type of environment does the facility provide? Is it warm and welcoming? Are there toys that foster fine motor and intellectual development? What sort of noise level seems to be average? The ears of toddlers are far more sensitive to high frequency sounds, causing loud noises to alarm many children. Does the daycare provide a quiet, comfortable space and adequate time for rest? Given that three quarters of children under the age of five suffer from sleep difficulty, nap time can be a critical component in a child’s day.
Once a daycare program has been selected, parents must turn their attention toward readying their children for the daycare setting. Encouraging independence in self help tasks like dressing, toileting, and basic hygiene will ease the transition into child care.