Apr 05, 2021
The best Child Development Centers provide both an engaging learning environment and a warm, friendly, home-like atmosphere for the children under their care. It’s a delicate balance but a critical one. Both are essential to the healthy development of your child. Our child development experts have identified eight must-haves for Child Development Centers. Here they are.
Child development centers should be organized around the basic principles of child development. That means separate areas for physical, cognitive, social, emotional and linguistic development. Look for specific areas dedicated to these critical principles. In layman's terms, this means a literacy center with books and a quiet, comfortable space for reading.
There should be a well-stocked art area that encourages creativity. A place that allows children to practice their large and fine motor skills is also critical. Look for spaces that encourage exploration, such as sand or watFer learning centers, or a discovery center focused on nature or science. Finally, areas devoted to music as well as math manipulatives should be available. Keep in mind that in most child development centers, these areas will rotate and change regularly as staff focuses on specific skills. Ask teachers about their learning centers and activities.
Children who feel safe and comfortable are ready to learn, and this is the premise guiding the design of the best child development centers. Rest mats and floor cushions or bean bag chairs should be available to children for quiet time as well as storytime or naptime. You should see both soft spaces and quiet corners that children can take advantage of. Recognize that child development centers are unlikely to have quiet areas that are isolated or beyond the line of sight of staff for safety reasons. Young children spend a lot of time on or near the floor, so it should be clear, clean and comfortable. You should also see soft, stuffed animals and additional comforting décor.
Color choices and art should stimulate but not over-stimulate. A riot of color or loud noises can be distracting or even disturbing to children. Look for spaces that have plenty of natural light with indirect lighting used as the main ambient lighting. The room should not feel commercial in any way.
Look for child-sized furniture in a child development center. That means chairs that children can easily climb on and tables that young children can easily access. Look for books and toys placed on shelves that are also well within reach of your child. Look for windows at children’s levels as well. Are the bathrooms and sinks geared toward children? Doors and water fountains should also be child-friendly and positioned at the right height for children to easily access them. Recognize that for safety reasons, not all doors or windows may be accessible. Dishes and cups should also be at the appropriate size for the children at the center.
Access to outdoor spaces is a must for child development centers. There should be both playground areas as well as open or multi-purpose play spaces. Look for areas that have spaces for running and playing ball as well as climbing, swinging and balancing. There should also be spaces that encourage imagination and creativity through play. The outdoor space should be secure and fenced for safety and easily accessed from the main building.
Nature should also play a role in both outdoor and indoor spaces. That could be a sandbox or trees or garden areas that provide both play and learning opportunities.
Every preschool will be somewhat different in what they choose to focus on regarding learning. Some may focus on creativity or art, others on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, Mathematics) or environmental education. Whatever the focus, the child development center you choose should demonstrate their commitment to that focus. That means a STEAM centered program will have physical centers devoted to science, technology, engineering, art and math. These could take many forms and will quite likely change throughout the year. There may be building centers featuring blocks or Legos, or manipulatives to encourage math exploration.
When you tour a child development center, you should see evidence that the teachers have all of the materials and equipment they need to engage your child in learning and make them feel at home.
Here at Children’s Learning Center, our focus on STEAM and we provide everything your child needs here to develop their skills in STEAM. Our staff is happy to explain our approach to child development and provide you with a tour of our outstanding facilities.