A week or so ago I posted a blog entry about finding qualified daycare, which lists resources that can help once you´ve made the final decision to put your child in a center rather than using a different option, but in this post I will list the advantages and disadvantages of this type of care.
Socialization. Your child will get to interact with other children in a structured setting, thereby learning to share, take turns, and socialize with children of varying ages.
Structure. Centers typically follow a routine, which is great for children of all ages.
One friend said that she never thought her daughter would lie down on the nap mat and sleep like the other children, but within a week she was doing just that. Daycare centers offer children an opportunity to watch what other kids are doing and follow suit.
Some centers only hire people who have had some type of educational background in childcare or child development. Others send their help out to conferences so that they can gain experience. Ask about the staff´s level of education or training when you tour the facility. Find one that hires trained staff and/or that offers staff development opportunities.
Many centers offer programs that include art, dance, theater, and sports. Some centers also offer programs in computers and a foreign language. This is important for me, as I want my daughter to be exposed to as many creative outlets as possible during a young age. Also, these are things that I cannot teach my daughter in depth at home, so it would be nice for her to work on them in a formal setting with other children her age.
Multiple caregivers. This is great for several reasons. First, your child gets used to being taken care of and directed by several people rather than just one. Secondly, if one caretaker gets a little burned out, another one can take over. Thirdly, if a caretaker is sick, there are others to fill in. You won´t need to find another setting or take a day off because your caretaker is ill.
We toured one center that worked on an "open´ concept. This meant that classrooms did not have doors or walls but instead looked like overgrown cubicles. I didn´t like this, because I found the center to be way too noisy when all of the kids were up and about. I could easily see this type of setting becoming distracting for my daughter.
Some centers charge a lot for overtime care. Check with their policy in case you run late or have a meeting that lasts longer than expected.
Not all centers require that caretakers have experience in child development.
Many centers in our area have waiting lists that are up to a year long.
Your child will be exposed to many illnesses due to the large amount of children in the centers. However, I don´t necessarily believe this is a disadvantage. I think it is best to have your child exposed in order to build up an immune system before reaching kindergarten. From what I saw while teaching, those children not exposed spent a large portion of kindergarten out sick, which can easily result in gaps in the learning.
Different centers have different curriculums and programs. You´ll have to visit each center separately and compare.
Not all centers follow a set curriculum. We visited one in which the director simply asked the staff members to hand in lesson plans each week, which she then reviewed. When I asked what my daughter might be doing in the two-year-old classroom, the director was unable to give a concrete answer.
Check out my previous blog on finding quality daycare for tips that will help you as you search for the right center.