Are you one of those parents who feels guilty about leaving your child in the crèche the whole day? Do you wonder how the quality of the daycare is going to affect the development of your baby?
You are not the only one. Much like the west, formal day care outside the confines of our homes and child care in crèches have become common in India. A few decades ago, the joint family system was the main support for mothers who wanted to leave her baby in reliable care, when she was not around. The extended family including grandparents, uncles and aunts would take care of all the little ones, growing up together. But with the emergence of the nuclear family, mostly in the urban scenario, young couples have to depend on outside care.
Nowadays, most mothers go back to work after a few months of childbirth and both parents get busy with the travails of running the house as well as pursuing a career. In such a situation, daycare centres come to the rescue of the parents. Many of these centres not just provide basic care but are also associated with early learning in children. They make significant impact on the overall development of the child.
An article published in the Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development, ‘Current research on child care effects’ says that research has found both advantages and disadvantages of leaving a child in formal care or crèche. One study points out that children left in a day care for longer time till they are 4.5 years of age may show behavioural problems. But there are other studies, which reveal that good quality daycare centres promote cognitive development and better learning skills.
It is true that in good centres, caretakers promote language learning, organise activities that promote development and teach basic math skills. But in some places, overcrowding is a problem because of which children may be neglected and their behaviour issues may go unnoticed.
With the world changing day after day, it is increasingly important to find a suitable crèche. It is important to start your search for a day care centre for your toddler or a creche for a smaller child in advance -- at least a couple of months before you actually enrol.
Here are some valuable tips on choosing a crèche:
- Choose a place that is closer to your home or workplace.
- A good reputation with a warm environment will be perfect.
- Transparent policies and open communication.
- A structured, child-centric and age-specific curriculum.
- Check if the teachers are qualified and seem sensitive to the child’s needs.
- The centre is clean and has safe measures in place.
First impressions speak volumes. During your first visit make sure you chat up with a couple of parents to get an honest feedback about the daycare. It is also a good idea to check if the day care is well equipped with medical facilities.
Dos and Don'ts once your child is in the daycare/crèche:
- Make sure the crèche has your numbers and also an emergency number as back up.
- Make sure that you inform the crèche about possible food allergies.
- Make an effort to get to know the caretakers of your child.
- Interact with your child to find out how their day went
- If your child is older, watch out for any unusual behaviour or tantrums.
- Don’t ever feel the least bit guilty about double-checking references or visiting and revisiting a centre.
- Don’t rely too heavily on information you gathered from the internet.
- Don’t assume a license means quality.
- Don’t forget to examine the centre’s policies and procedures.
While there is no substitute for a parent’s love and affection, the right day care centre can give you the right support and your child a good start, which will act as a stepping stone into the world of school.