Unit One The Children and You
Copyright Goodheart-Willcox Co., Inc.
First and foremost, parents want their children
to be safe and comfortable. They want a program
that welcomes their child and promotes all areas of
the children’s development. Cost and location are
important, too. Working parents usually prefer the
convenience of a program near their home or job.
Parents must choose a program they can afford.
For example, parents with lower incomes may need
to use a public program or a private program with
low fees.
Quality of the program is a key factor. Parents
are interested in the program’s goals, activities, and
schedule. Variety and balance among activities is
desirable. Quality programs offer ample materials,
equipment, and space. These programs also
offer smaller group sizes and more adults within
each group. This allows children to receive more
attention and personal care.
Many parents ask about the training and
experience of the staff. Studies that show staff
members with early childhood education degrees
and experience are often more sensitive to
children’s needs. They provide more stimulating,
developmentally appropriate care and education.
Well-trained staff members ensure that learning
experiences are meaningful and respectful for the
children and their families.
Asking about staff turnover rates can help
parents in choosing a program. Parents should
avoid choosing programs with high staff turnover.
First, frequent staff changes may be a sign of low
staff wages or poor working conditions. These may
indicate problems with the quality of the program.
High staff turnover also interferes with children’s
sense of security. To feel secure, young children
need consistency and predictability. They need to
form close relationships with one or two caregivers.
They also need a predictable environment. Staff
turnover disrupts the environment and prevents
children from forming close relationships with
Parents want a facility that is safe for their
children. For example, many centers have a security
system that helps them monitor who enters and
leaves the building. The building should also have
smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fi re
extinguishers, and evacuation plans. Parents
desire a facility that is clean and in good repair.
The Selection Process
Most parents follow the same process in
selecting a child care program. As a teacher, you
need to understand your role in this process.
Parents need to know about a program before
they can choose it. Your role will be to help
parents gain the needed information.
As parents begin a search, they want
to identify options. Some parents start by
contacting a child care resource and referral
agency for a list of licensed programs in their
community. Other parents go online or search
the telephone book to identify programs in the
community. Parents may also ask people they
know about experiences with the available
programs. Many parents seek the advice of other
relatives, friends, coworkers, and neighbors who
use early childhood programs. Parents often
trust this more than information given by the
program itself.
Next, parents often begin calling available
programs. First questions often involve what age
groups the program serves, whether openings
exist in their child’s age group, and what the
hours of operation are. Then, parents might ask
about fees and location.
Parents who are still interested will ask
about the program, staff, and activities. From
there, they may arrange a visit to the program.
A visit during program hours lets parents
inspect the environment, observe the program,
and meet the staff. Parents may want to see the
whole facility, including the kitchen, restrooms,
classrooms, and outdoor play areas. They will
often ask to see the daily and weekly schedules
as well as the menu for meals and snacks.
Parents also want to observe the interactions
of staff with children and other adults in the
After the visit, parents may have additional
questions. They may need to visit a program
several times before making a fi nal decision.
Parents may also want to bring their child to
see how the child responds to the environment.
With all of this information, parents can decide
which program will best meet the needs of the
child and family.
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