Dropping off a child at day care is often difficult, but choosing a center with engaging, age-appropriate activities will make the transition a little easier. A quality center balances the type of activities to include active periods, quiet time, individual activities, small group and large group experiences. Taking a peek in the day care rooms and asking about typical activities helps you decide whether your little one will thrive in the environment.
Tots need exercise to stay healthy. The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests finding out how often your toddler is physically active at day care. If the TV is on frequently or your toddler doesn't have the opportunity to stretch her legs, she's likely missing out on the activities that improve her muscle strength, balance and coordination. When indoors, toddlers stay active with climbing tunnels, dance, movement activities, walks through the halls and games such as Duck, Duck, Goose. Check for a fenced outdoor play area with toddler-sized equipment. A soft surface underneath the equipment is essential for preventing injuries from falls.
A child care program usually includes plenty of creative opportunities for little ones. An art center is a common sight, with a variety of materials available, including paint, clay, crayons and colored construction paper. Toddler-led art projects offer the most creative freedom. A dramatic play center is another way for young kids to get creative. With different outfits and props, the toddlers explore various roles and imagine many different circumstances.
A quality day care program includes educational activities throughout the day to teach toddlers concepts such as the alphabet, number sense, shapes and colors. Songs, books and games are often used to practice these basic concepts. Literacy is another key element for a toddler program. Hearing stories expands your tot's vocabulary and knowledge of books. She begins to make connections between spoken and written language, all while learning about the topics in the book. Look for a day care program with specific teaching goals or a curriculum that includes learning activities for a well-rounded experience.
Toddlers quickly gain independence, but they need help mastering all those daily tasks and skills. A child care program often gives the tots the opportunity to practice skills, including hand-washing, dressing and cleaning up. Dolls offer an opportunity to practice dressing skills. At lunch time, toddlers might serve themselves the food and eat on their own to master dinner table skills. Dressing up affords the opportunity to practice putting on clothes, zipping and buttoning.