Infants and Toddlers: Almost all parents feel uneasy about whether or not they’re providing all the required care for their infant or toddler. That is perfectly normal and a justified unease – most notably if this is a first child.
That’s because our greatest urge may be to protect our offspring. So, parents will want to be sure that they’re ‘doing the right thing’ in terms of sourcing early learning childcare.
What is early learning childcare – Infants and Toddlers?
Childcare in its simplest form is about making sure that an infant or toddler is provided with:
- physical and emotional safety/security;
- food and drink sufficient to be comfortable;
- surroundings that offer warmth (or coolness), reassurance and the removal of annoyances such as wet nappies!
These things are all classically regarded as being linked to our animal heritage and survival instincts. They are a baseline for childcare and are largely passive.
However, human beings also require something that while not directly linked to immediate survival, is critically important for enjoyment and the development of our physical and mental capabilities. That thing is intellectual stimulation and it’s active and participatory not passive engagement.
- All Infants and Toddlers will learn from the moment they’re born or as some evidence suggests, perhaps even before birth.
- They will explore their growing bodily control by reaching out to touch things and the effects they can have on their environment by pulling, pushing, crying and so on. As they age, babies and toddlers become naturally more adventurous and more capable of exploring the world around them, thereby learning in the process.
- Although once the subject of debate, there is now firm evidence that if babies are supported and encouraged during that time, their rate of learning and development may be aided.
Early learning childcare centres aim to combine these two imperatives – providing a child with all the things it needs to be comfortable as well as a stimulating environment where the child’s natural tendencies to learn are satisfied and enhanced by appropriate learning experiences.
Not all daycare centres offer established early learning programs. Some tick all the boxes of providing security and comfort plus unstructured play opportunities but they may lack a formal early learning structure.
For most parents, the primary selection criteria will relate to overcoming their natural reluctance to hand over the child to someone else to care for – even if only for a few hours. It’s therefore understandable that the initial evaluations of a daycare centre will include things such as:
- establishing a degree of confidence in the personnel and direction of the establishment;
- taking appropriate references and validating those through discussions with other parents and feedback sites;
- confirming that the premises are safe and secure, with appropriate first-aid capabilities;
- ensuring that any catering meets your standards.
Once past those basic comfort factors, it might be prudent to move into assessing what, if any, facilities the daycare centre offers for early learning for Infants and Toddlers.
While most parents would probably put the basics at the top of their priority list for assessment, the opportunities for early learning childcare shouldn’t be overlooked.