We all know little babies need care and attention around the clock and many parents are hesitant about choosing outside childcare for the tiniest member of their family. However, around the age of one, when the child is able to communicate with gestures, is able to stand or walk a little and is starting to show interest in social interactions outside of direct family members, parents feel a bit more confident about enrolling their child into a program. Most parents are unsure how to go about choosing the right program for their child. If you’re struggling with this, we’ve got three things you may consider when choosing a childcare program.
1. What’s your parenting philosophy?
Before you Google “opvang Curaçao”, take some time to review your parenting goals and philosophy with your co-parent. If you’ve never discussed this before, we suggest this helpful exercise.
Clear an hour in your calendar and sit down with your co-parent (if you have one). Now imagine 20 years from now your little one is coming over for dinner. Imagine opening the door and greeting your child. Who is the person standing before you? Most parents will use “successful”, “kind and considerate”, “independent” and “financially secure” to describe the person they wish to greet at the door. Some will throw in “self-disciplined” or “hard-working”. Now, come back to the present and think about what kind of environment will encourage your child to develop into the person you imagined. Think about how you’re encouraging this at home and how your child’s environment needs to be set-up to reinforce what you’re when you are at home.
Done? Don’t turn to Google just yet….
2. What childcare option is best for your family?
Before you start typing in that search engine, you might want to consider the many childcare options that are available to you. Childcare options on the island generally fit in four categories: 1) nanny, 2) in-home childcare (gastouderopvang), 3) childcare centers (kinderopvang, kindercentrum, kinderdagverblijf/crèche, speelschool) and 4) schools. There are both pros and cons to each option and it is well worth it to take some time to actively decide which one would work for your family at this time.
Not sure what to choose? Download our helpful cheat sheet here!
3. Choosing a childcare center or school? Make the most of your tour!
Ok – so you Googled and found a list of great options. Everything looks right – the options have a nice brochure and an up-to-date website. The next step is usually a tour. Tours are designed to let you see what the center or school wants you to see and that’s perfectly ok. The purpose of the tour is to show you what sets them apart from other options. However, it’s helpful to know things to look for that denote a high-quality program.
Your child will learn as much from the environment as he or she will learn from the adults. So, while on the tour, take a closer look at the classroom:
- look for clean, uncluttered and organized spaces,
- all items should be child-sized and directly accessible to the child to allow him or her to develop their independence,
- if you’re looking for a program that puts the child’s needs front and center, artwork should be at the child’s height,
- be wary of classrooms that have lots of decorations and too much color - if you feel overstimulated, imagine how your child will feel!
- be wary of spaces with television screens – young children learn best from loving adults and not from a screen.
Adults have a big impact on a learning environment and a child’s development. Things to pay attention to are:
- do the adults seem calm and happy or distracted and stressed?
- what type of language is used? Do they model proper grammar? Young children are in a period of intense language development and good quality language is an important part of their development.
- do the adults speak in a respectful tone?
- do the adults use positive language? Be wary of adults who use harsh and hurtful words.
- do they get down to the child’s level to communicate with them? Be wary of adults yelling across the classroom and any tone that is exasperated, impatient or angry.
If you’re touring while class is in session, pay attention to how the tour is organized.
- how much care is taken to not to disrupt the classrooms?
- how often are tours given? What’s the school policy on tours?
- are the children engaged? Or are the kids running around in the classroom?
If you are touring and disrupting the classroom, once your child is enrolled, their concentration may be disrupted every time there is a tour.
Details are important
Tiny details of a program can actually tell you a lot about the overall quality. Look for things such as whether the lawn is mowed, whether there are cobwebs on the ceiling and such, but mostly focus on asking:
- whether they have an emergency plan in place,
- whether they apply sunscreen and insect repellent and how often,
- where food is served and what the routine looks like,
- how they deal with less than desirable behavior,
- how their teachers keep their knowledge up-to-date, and
- how often the materials the kids work with are cleaned.
If you notice a lot of things that haven’t been thought through or might need attention, they might not be as detailed oriented either when it comes to the children.
Considering The Montessori School as an option? We host tours once a month on a Saturday. Tours are free, however registration is required via https://my.montessori.cw/tour.