What do you look for when choosing child care?

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Answered by: Alicia, An Expert in the Child Care - General Category
Choosing child care can be a tricky situation for parents all around. It would seem to be the easiest thing to do, but when faced with the challenge many parents find it unnecessarily stressful. The goal of course is choosing child care that is perfect. One that balances learning with play, that stimulates and teaches a child the requirements to lead a happy, fulfilling life.

Many parents are comforted by choosing child care that is home-based. That is, usually a stay-at-home mother with her children and a few other children throughout the neighborhood or surrounding areas. The home-based program is good for children who do not cope well with being outside of a comfortable situation, and great for those kids who are used to having a bit of television throughout the day and a nap. They are usually homes that are nice and quiet, with nice backyards and perhaps a pet or two for the children to interact with. Home-based child cares often are a little more lax in their learning activities, but as many child experts agree learning is done even through play for a child.

There are some other parents who feel that home-based care is too lax for their child, and wish to get them prepared for school as soon as possible. For these parents, choosing child care is usually a bit harder as while there are many different programs, they are also much more expensive. Schools like Montessori and Goddard can be upwards of $1200 a month for an infant, while prices are usually lower for older children as the requirements to care for them diminish with time. Mostly their costs are factored based on the child's ability to be mobile and do things on his or her own. They do focus more on active learning rather than passive, and are a more learning-based program for children rather than a play-based program. While play is often learning, learning is not always play.

For some religious families childcare at the local church may be appropriate. Often churches have programs for children that are preschool to school aged, depending on your particular denomination and the church's ability to run a successful program. The larger the church the better chance of a full program as well, which is good for the social stimulation of a child at any age.

There is always the tried and true option of local recreation centers as well; especially if you live in a highly populated area with a lot of forestry and natural preserves. Almost all park and recreation centers have child care programs, if not specialized ones as well for particular subjects such as ballet dancing, jazz dance, arts and crafts programs for children, etc. It is highly worth the effort of finding out what they offer in the area, if you are a parent looking to find programming for a wide age range and multiple children. Most programs at rec centers last one-to-two hours and are usually led by one main teacher with an assistant, as seems common.

The last option for picky parents is to hire a nanny or Au pair. Not only does this allow the child to remain in their natural home environment, but it allows the parents a sense of security as well. They have the option of installing nanny cams throughout the house. (Though not in areas nanny will be changing/dressing/etc., as to avoid penalty of law.) While a nanny may cost more than a traditional childcare option they are also often trained in the arts of assisting parents in their everyday tasks as well. It often makes being a parent and employee that much easier when having an extra set of hands on the side.

All in all, when choosing child care it is no wonder parents can sometimes be overwhelmed. The best possible choice is made with an open heart, mind, and the understanding that it ultimately should be about what the specific needs are of both the family and the child, specifically. Hopefully this brief overview in choosing child care and the many options one is faced with when doing so, can be helpful to those that read it and their children as well. After all, choosing child care is something everyone does at least a few times in their life, especially today.

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