What is Quality Child Care?
Broadly defined, the term childcare includes all types of education and care provided for young children. The term is also used more specifically for the supplemental care of children from birth to age eight years by persons other than parents. Childcare is used for a variety of reasons, and programs vary by the number and age of children, the reason care is used, the preparation and status of caregivers, and the location of the care.
The two major purposes of early childhood programs are care and education. A majority of families today use childcare while they are employed or engaged in other activities. Many programs include an educational component, based on a growing body of research that documents the importance of children’s early experiences for their healthy development and academic success. A large number of programs have originated through concern for children living in poverty and who may be at risk for success in school and later life. Programs may also include a parent component designed to educate parents through their participation in children’s activities.
What is School Readiness?
School readiness is difficult to define. It is more than knowing your ABCs or being able to count to 20. Children’s readiness can be assessed across 3 general areas:
Physical Well-Being and Motor Development: Children will have developed fine motor skills (cutting, dressing self), gross motor skills (running, jumping), and will be well-rested and well-nourished.
Social and Emotional Development: Children will be able to have positive interactions with others and be able to self-regulate their behavior as well as understand and express their feelings. They will also be able to solve conflicts, empathize with others and have the ability to take turns and share.
Cognitive and Language Development: Children will be able to observe, ask questions, and solve problems based on what they see and hear. They will have an enthusiastic and curious approach to new activities. Children will also be able to communicate with others and understand that there is a connection between letters and sounds.
Why is quality child care important?
Brain Development: Current research has shown that the early years (ages 0-5) are the most sensitive for brain development. Over 90% of brain growth occurs during this period. The people who help care for your child are also those who help shape your child’s mind. For more information, see our Brain Development and School Readiness fact sheet.
School Readiness: Studies show that children who receive quality child care enter school with better math, language, and social skills. These skills give your child a good start to succeed in school and in life.
Reduced Stress: When your child has safe, loving, and stimulating child care that you can count on, you don’t have to worry while you are at work. You know that your child is getting the kind of care children need to be healthy, happy, and successful.
Everyone Benefits: Society, children, families, employers, communities, and the nation as a whole benefit from high quality child care. Fostering a healthy, successful, future workforce is essential to everyone’s well-being.
The Basics of Brain Development and School Readiness
Babies are born ready to learn. Researchers have discovered that between the ages of 0-5 years of agea child’s brain growth is occurring at a rapid rate and completes at least 90% of its growth during this period (NACCRRA, 2012). Not surprisingly the spotlight is now focused on children’s growth and development during this period in preparing children for school and life-long success. Below are some fundamental areas of child development and the skills children learn, as well as some ways that we as parents can support healthy brain development and school readiness.
What is happening in these early years regarding brain development?
Development of Senses:Children’s senses develop. This includes their ability to have clear and coordinated eyesight, their hearing, as well as their sense of touch.
The correct development of the senses of sight, touch, taste and smell are the groundwork for other brain processes.
Development of Language and Communication Skills: Children’s ability to learn language is developed from birth through talking and reading to children.Just because children cannot talk, doesn’t meet they are not developing language and the ability to communicate. It is a long process and every day is important.
Development of Social and Emotional Skills: Children develop social attachments to the people in their lives and learn to trust, feel safe, and have control over their emotions. This is the groundwork for the ability to be caring towards others
What can parents do to support their child’s brain development and school readiness?
Feed them a variety of nutritious foods: With your doctor’s supervision, introduce good nutritional foods to support developing bodies and brains (some nutritious foods include formula or breast milk, vegetables, fruits, and grains).
Hold your child often: Every time you touch, hold, have eye contact, and embrace your child, you are helping to build connections in the brain.
Talk with your child: Language is the most natural way to connect with your child. Sing, have conversations, or play peek-a-boo with your child often.Even though we may think that babies are not listening or do not understand, the act of verbally interacting with them sets the stage for language acquisition and builds healthy and positive connections in your baby’s brain.Take the time to have conversations with toddlers, ask questions, give them one-step directions such as “open your book” and help them by modeling the behavior.Just relax and have fun with them whenever possible
Read to your child: Do this early and often. Babies learn to read and write from hearing language over and over.There are many books to read to infants and ones that are safe for them to chew on and handle.Make reading a part of your and your toddler’s daily routine. Ask questions like “what do you think will happen next” or ask them to find a character on the page.15 minutes a day of reading time can make a big difference in healthy brain development and literacy skills.
Respond to their communication: When your baby cries or coos, he is trying to get your attention.When your baby cries respond to him. Maybe it is diaper changing time, maybe he is hungry or maybe he just wants some time with you.Spoiling a baby during the infancy stage is not a concern. When we respond to our children at this age it assures them that someone is there that they can rely on to take care of their needsBuilding trust builds a strong foundation for children to express empathy and caring towards others in the future.
Remember, if your child is interested, involved and having fun in an activity, he is learning. Treasure those early days of playing and cuddling with your little one; it is exactly what they need to grow and learn!