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Make your day care experience a good one for your child

February 1, 2018
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

To the editor:

According to the U.S. Census bureau, Lee and Charlotte counties rank as one of the top 10 fastest-growing metros. That being said, there is a specific need for new working families that have preschool children to find a day care center that will be both affordable and substantial in nurturing their children. Day care centers have become an integral rite of passage for children in today's society where children are expected to have certain skills before they enter kindergarten.

Day care centers serve several purposes. They serve as integration for your child from a home setting to an educational one which can be difficult. Starting day care a few days a week can help introduce children to the new environment in small doses helping strengthen their resolve for when they will be away from home for the entire day. A very important other aspect day cares serve is socialization of children being introduced to other kids their age. Some children will be interacting with other children for the first time and need to have positive experiences. Day cares also help children with basic learning skills that most kindergarten classes expect children to have knowledge of before they reach school age. Such skills include holding a pencil, writing their name, tracing shapes, retelling simple stories, counting from 1 to 10, and knowing their ABCs. It also allows for parents to know which skills their children are achieving success at, and which ones need to be worked on more, which can be reported to their kindergarten teachers when they do start school.

When looking for child care for your family, there needs to be a good fit between the expectations of the parent and the philosophy of the day care center. Getting recommendations from other parents is a good start. When in the waiting room of your pediatric office, speak to other parents and get an idea of facilities in the area to visit. Sometimes coworkers can also be a good source of places to see.

While visiting, check the days and hours of each facility to see if they coincide with your job. Don't be afraid to ask for qualifications of the staff, as well as how long staff members have been at the facility. Huge turnover is never a good thing as children need consistency to establish relationships with staff that they feel comfortable with and can learn and grow from. When visiting the center, pay close attention to how the staff interacts with the children. It is imperative that the staff is warm and friendly and the environment is open and non-judgmental.

While walking around the center check to see if the facility is clean. Children will get colds when starting day care as their immune systems are not fully matured. That being said, it is important to keep toys, counters, and play areas clean. Each facility has a schedule of activities as well as menus if food is being provided. A copy of these should be readily available. Pick up and drop off policies are important to be aware of to be sure children are safe. Next it is important to check out the center's policies on discipline, nap times, and sick-child. You should check references from prior or current day care center parents to see how they feel about the center.

After choosing a facility that best meets your needs, hopefully you will start to establish relationships with caregivers that will ease your anxiety. Some facilities offer cameras for you to be able to check in and see what your child is doing and how well they are interacting. After visiting and deciding what facility best meets your needs, your family will begin on their new journey!

Vanessa DiCillo

Cape Coral



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