Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Daycare vs. Dayscare

I vividly remember the day when my wife and I started looking for a minder to look after our daughter once her maternity leave had come to an end. I felt nauseous; literally sick to my stomach at the thought of having to leave my daughter in the care of a complete stranger. It terrified me. I remember feeling the guilt that came with it; why couldn't I just earn enough for my wife to stay at home if she so desired?!?

We scouted and combed, high and low, in pursuit of the finest childminder in the land. After some time searching, we eventually found her; I feel very lucky to say that our daughter has been extremely happy in her care for the past two-and-a-half years now. But, as life would have it, like all good things, it must now come to an end.  From September, our little one will be starting her first term of nursery school; just as we were getting into a nice, comfortable routine!  Numerous friends have asked me which form of daycare is better, day nurseries or childminders? It is a difficult one to answer as both have their pros and cons. Without going into any great detail, childminding offers your child the luxury of forming an intimate, close bond with their carer, whereas day nurseries will offer them a more social environment given the fact that there are more children around.

Much research has been conducted in the way of how day care affects the social interaction of children, as well as changes in aggression levels.  This however is too vast a topic for me to explore at present. What I will leave you with though are some guidelines which research has highlighted to ensure that your child has the most cognitively stimulating, social and interactive environment possible. These traits within a nursery setting are known as high quality care guidelines. So, when you set out in search of daycare, look out for the following:

(1)  Physical Setting (look out for a clean, well-lit, well-ventilated, uncrowded environment and a fenced outdoor play space)

(2)  Child-to-Carer Ratio (Ratios should be around 3:1 for infants & 6:1 for toddlers and a high level of consistency with regards to staffing is paramount so that relationships can be formed)

(3)  Daily Activities (scheduled active play, quiet play, naps, meals and a degree of flexibility to suit your child’s needs)

(4)  Adult-Child Interaction (carers should show a prompt response to your child when they are distressed; carers should talk to and read to children)

(5)  Carer Qualifications (there should be sufficient training in child development as well as 1st aid and safety training)

(6) Relationships with Parents (you as a parent should be welcomed at any time; also, your child’s behaviour and development should be discussed with you as an ongoing form of keeping you in the know)

(7)  Toys & Equipment (age appropriate toys both indoor and outdoor)

Government agencies such as Ofsted in the UK are also extremely useful when trying to establish the quality of any specific childcare institution. OFSTED Link 

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