and adolescent psychiatrists recognize that the ideal environment
for raising a small child is in the home with parents and
family. Intimate daily direct parental care of infants for
the first several months of life is particularly important.
Since the ideal environment often is not available, the role
of day care, especially in the first few years of the child's
life, needs to be considered. Some experts recommend a minimum
of six or more months leave for parents. All agree that when
day care is used, the quantity and quality of the day care
are significant in the child's development.
choosing a day care environment, parents should be familiar
with the state licensure regulations for child care. They
should also check references and observe the caregivers with
sometimes take their young child to the home of a person who
is caring for one or more other children. Infants and children
under two-and-one-half need:
adults per child than older children require
- A lot
of individual attention
same caregiver(s) over a long period of time
- A caregiver
who will play and talk with them, smile with them, praise
them for their achievements, and enjoy them
should seek a caregiver who is warm, caring, self-confident,
attentive, and responsive to the children. The caregiver should
be able to encourage social skills and positive behavior,
and set limits on negative ones. Parents should be sensitive
to the caregiver's capacity to relate to children of different
ages. Some individuals can work well only with children at
a specific stage of development.
wise for parents to find out how long the individual plans
to work in this day care job. High turnover of individuals,
several turnovers, or any turnover at critical points of development,
can distress the child. If parents think or feel the day care
they have chosen is unsatisfactory, they should change caregivers.
All parents have the right to drop in during the day and make
an unannounced visit.
particularly after the age of three, benefit from good, group
day care, where they can have fun and learn how to interact
with others. Child and adolescent psychiatrists suggest that
parents seek day care services with:
experienced teachers who enjoy, understand and can lead
teachers and assistants, ideally, at least one for every
five children, small rather than large groups if possible.
(Studies have shown that five children with one caregiver
is better than 20 children with four caregivers)
that has been there for a long period of time
for creative work, imaginative play, and physical activity
to move indoors and out
of drawing and coloring materials and toys, as well as equipment
such as swings, wagons, jungle gyms, etc.
child seems afraid to go to day care, parents should introduce
the new environment gradually: at first, the mother or father
can go along, staying nearby while the child plays. The parent
and child can stay for a longer period each day until the
child wants to become part of the group.
parents may worry about how the child will do, they should
show pleasure in helping their child succeed. If the child
shows unusual or persistent terror about leaving home, parents
should discuss it with their pediatrician.
#20 Updated 5/99