A recent study released by the National Institute of Health (NIH) found that children who receive high-quality child care in their first 4.5 years of life perform better academically and behaviorally as teenagers, according to Claire Haas, vice president of education for Kiddie Academy, an educationally focused child care provider.
Beginning in 1991, the NIH study evaluated the cognitive and academic progress of a group of 1,370 children ranging in age from one month through sixth grade. Researchers questioned parents and recorded the type, quantity and quality of childcare during the children's first 4.5 years. They also observed child care interactions to evaluate the quality of care. According to the report issued by the NIH, high-quality child care is characterized by the caregivers' warmth and support and by the cognitive stimulation given to the children.
"The results of this study serve as a reminder of the important relationship between children and their caregivers," said Haas. "This NIH study confirms that the quality of a child care program can have a significant impact on a child's development."
When searching for childcare or pre-school, it’s difficult to know every question to ask. Area Kiddie Academy directors suggest that parents use the following questions as guidelines when researching child care options:
What would a typical day be like for my child?
Know what is important to you ahead of time, and ensure that it is incorporated into the care giver’s daily activities. If a provider says there is no set schedule, this should be a red flag. Structure and routines are essential to a young child's development.
What is your child care philosophy?
Directors should be able to readily answer this question for you. Quality programs should provide an environment that fosters learning in a consistent way using developmentally appropriate methods. For example, Kiddie Academy's Life Essentials philosophy offers a curriculum designed to accommodate each child's individual needs and ensure that each child is constantly stimulated, engaged and growing intellectually and socially.
Could I visit and observe a classsroom?
Providers who are confident in their programs should welcome such a request. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with the specific learning spaces your child will spend his or her day in and watch how teachers interact with the children in their care.
Do you have other parents in your program I could contact?
Quality providers will be happy for you to speak with references. Ask your personal network of fellow parents for their experiences with the programs you are considering.
What are your programs like for older children?
If your child will be in a child care setting for several years, it is wise to research and observe the programs directed to children beyond your child's current age group. Ask questions about the activities and learning opportunities for older children to determine the facility's long term viability.
"Finding a high-quality child care facility to accommodate young children's needs is a decision that has lasting impact on their future development and success," added Haas. "The NIH findings reinforce the need for parents to carefully assess their childcare options and be confident in committing to a program."
For more than 29 years, Kiddie Academy® has been a leader in education-based child care. The company serves families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. Kiddie Academy’s proprietary Life Essentials® curriculum, supporting programs, methods, activities and techniques help prepare children for life. Kiddie Academy is accredited by AdvancEd, signifying its commitment to quality education and the highest standards in child care. Kiddie Academy is an official partner of the nonprofit organization, First Book, and is dedicated to supporting children’s literacy.
Kiddie Academy is based in Maryland and has 105 academies located in 21 states, including 101 franchised and four company-owned locations. Approximately 70 additional academies are in development, with 10 to 20 new locations slated to open each year. Kiddie Academy intends to reach 200 Academies by 2012, with all future growth coming via franchising.
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