Choosing the best child care and early learning experiences for your child | On Health

  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 4:12pm
  • Opinion

Safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments are the key to successful, resilient children. This is especially true in the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life and is the hallmark of a quality child care or preschool program. But how do you find this for your child or grandchild?

Long-range, follow-up studies have identified the most important features:

Great teachers: More education translates into better classrooms and care. Look for teachers/caregivers to have at least a bachelor’s degree and continuing education that enhances their care. Background checks should have also been completed, and a low turnover rate is important. Children thrive in relationships, but not as well if their teacher/caregiver changes every few months.

Great setting: Healthy and safe practices is a basic requirement. There are standards that should not be compromised. Licensed caregivers and Head Start staff are taught these requirements, then coached and held to the standard. Preschools in our state are not required to be licensed, but may be certified by an outside group such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Parents can assess these points with a check list from Child Care Aware and the American Academy of Pediatrics: “Is This the Right Place for My Child” — https://childcareaware.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Eng_121m.pdf.

Safe sleep, proper cleaning and sanitizing, healthy nutrition and physical activity, hand washing, staff fully immunized even for influenza, safe playground and attention to environmental exposures will reduce accidents and illnesses.

For settings that care for infants, our state requires a child care health consultant to help implement these procedures and can help integrate children with special health care needs. Adult-to-child ratios that are adequately low help with better supervision.

Great care: Nurturing infants and young children is the single most important thing to build their resilience. Teachers/caregivers should be loving and responsive and available — another reason for low adult-to-child ratios. They should interact in a serve-and-return, back and forth, joyful way, building your child’s vocabulary and resilience. Everyday activities including feeding and handling challenging behaviors should all happen in this way.

But how do you find the perfect safe, stable, nurturing child care or preschool? Some people rely on recommendations from people they trust. In King County, our local Child Care Aware: Child Care Resources (www.childcare.org) have helped many of my patients find quality care. The Mercer Island Preschool Association is also helpful for settings on Mercer Island and hold an annual Preschool Fair (https://mipreschoolassociation.org/). Visit the setting, trust your instinct, support your teachers/caregivers.

Even though Michael Jackson sang “ABC, 123”, we know it takes more than that for quality early education and child care.

Dr. Danette Glassy, MD, FAAP, is a pediatrician at Mercer Island Pediatrics, providing a medical home for her patients for over 20 years. She is also an active child advocate working to improve the health and well-being of children and their families across the country. In this column she shares information of interest to families and caregivers as their child’s primary advocate. Information is her own view and not medical advice.

More in Opinion

Let’s hear it for liberty | On Faith

But not all fireworks are limited to displays after dark.

State Dems may abandon caucus chaos in time for 2020

Washington also is considering becoming more significant by moving its primary to early March.

How to prepare for a disaster on Mercer Island | Guest Column

A few years ago, I took over as medical lead for Mercer… Continue reading

Allison Apfelbaum
How to eat healthy on the go | On Health

In our busy lives it can be so very hard to make… Continue reading

My father was a failure | On Faith

The things my dad did and didn’t do.

A recipe for Mercer Island graduates | On Faith

Stir about the mixed emotions reduced from simmered memories.

Signature of registered voter is a coveted commodity

The competitive nature of the initiative and referendum season now peaking in Washington.

Photo by Matt Phelps
President, governor or retirement — only Inslee knows his plan

What we do know is that he’s off to Iowa in June to deliver the keynote address at a party fundraiser.

Growth, knowledge, learning at your library | Book Nook

Spring is the time of year when many of us focus on… Continue reading

Benefits of sports mouthguards | On Health

More than 5 million teeth are damaged due to sports related injuries and trauma each year.

It’s time to make Western Washington coal-free | Guest Column

For Washington to be a true climate leader, PSE needs to get out of the coal business.