Day care today is an interesting supplement to school for young children. If schools had extended hours like is prevalent in the western world, it would have been easier. But many schools in India have curriculum designed only for three hours in the kindergarten years. Hence, an after-school program in a day care centre often becomes valuable. Children are full of energy at this age and appropriate channelization is a must. While working parents often exercise this choice, it is increasingly gaining greater acceptance even among families where there are stay-at- home mothers.
Traditionally, people have felt that children are better off with a grandparent if both parents are working. Some believe leaving the child at home with full time nannies to give them the comfort of home and have a dedicated person overseeing is better. Yet others may feel day care is unnecessary and an excuse to get rid of children. While there may be different perspectives, I have personally benefitted from this concept. A good day care facility can aid a child’s development. It can provide an environment for learning and doing activities with kids of similar ages and foster social skill development also.
Based on my experience I think the following considerations should be taken into account while choosing a day care facility for your child –
- Hygienic and clean facilities
- Approachable and friendly staff
- Free play coupled with interactive learning and a stimulating curriculum
- Safe environment with constant monitoring on CCTV cameras
- Spacious, child friendly and open space
- Healthy and fresh meals
- Freedom to explore and experiment but in a controlled environment
- Developing social skills by playing with other children
- Opportunity to enhance motor skills
- Flexibility in timings.
- Well equipped to handle emergency situations if the need arises
- Less exposure to TV and videos; age-appropriate and educational
- Wide range of age-appropriate toys to encourage child's development, stimulate creativity and imaginative play.
I have enrolled my five year old son in an after school program in a prominent day care centre. The centre designs a curriculum to engage kids in a fun based manner while at the same time imparting learning. They have structured schedules that include adequate time for physical activity, quiet time, group programs, individual activities, meals and free time. They expose children to different activities across a single theme so they learn through their own interests and strengths. For example they have a new theme every week and do various activities like craft, music, science experiments etc around that particular theme. This helps in a more well-rounded experience. It also augments learnings from school.
You want your child to be exposed to peers and be around children of similar age group. At the same time you want them to absorb a variety of things from the environment. Since they spend a large part of their day in school and day care it becomes increasingly important to ensure the environment complements the home environment in terms of how you want to raise your child. If the message given to the child is consistent it enhances and expedites learning rather than sending mixed messages that will leave them confused. My son’s day care reinforces same things we tell him at home even personal habits like washing hands frequently, covering ones mouth while sneezing and so on. Seeing others follow it motivates my son to do so also and he makes it a point to mention some or the other friend’s name while doing these activities.
Do think about day care from the above lens and choose one that fits your child’s needs. Learning can be fun and it is a parent’s responsibility to expose a child to as many diverse environments as possible to stimulate learning.
This article was first published on Momspresso (erstwhile mycity4kids) sponsored by Dettol.