The experiences that a child has in early child care can have important effects on his or her later social, emotional, and academic success. Well-trained, nurturing teachers are best equipped to meet your child's needs. By choosing high-quality child care, you are investing in your child's future.

Early Brain Development

Research tells us that a baby's brain is not completely developed at birth. The brain develops based on a child's specific experiences. And the foundations of brain development happen in the first few years of a child's life. Children in high-quality child care are more likely to have positive experiences that help their brains develop to the fullest.

More Than Just Babysitting

Quality child care is more than just finding someone to watch your child when you're not home. Most programs use some sort of curriculum to guide their program. Make sure the curriculum is appropriate for your child's age and development and that the schedule is flexible. Look for a program where your child feels comfortable, where the adults spend time on the floor interacting with your child, where he hears lots of language, and where he gets the chance to experience a wide variety of activities. Quality child care programs should help your child develop socially, emotionally, cognitively, and physically.

Aren't all child care programs the same?

Child care programs actually vary quite a bit on measures of quality. Programs tend to be of higher quality that have:

  • Developmentally appropriate activities
  • Low adult-to-child ratios
  • Small groups
  • Well-educated and consistent caregivers
  • Established routines
  • Regular parent involvement
  • A child-centered philosophy

How can high-quality care benefit my child?

Young children in high-quality programs tend to:

  • Have better language skills
  • Have more developed reasoning abilities
  • Perform better on math and language tests in elementary school
  • Be less aggressive and better at getting along with others
  • Be happier overall

Being in a child-centered environment that promotes creativity and learning gives your child many opportunities to develop important skills and tools that she will use for the rest of her life.

Proceed to the next section: What does quality look like?