What Is Your Child Learning At Daycare

Do you want your child to . . .

    * Learn to read?
    * Enjoy learning?
    * Get along well with others?
    * Make decisions independently?
    * Enjoy solving problems?
    * Develop good coordination?

That's what a good child care program will do for your child. No matter what type of child care you use, be it center-based, family dayhome or in-home care, you want your child to be involved in daily activities that help them to learn. When you visit the daycare or dayhome, look for signs of activities below. Check the facility's program and daily schedule. Ask your caregiver what activities your child enjoys best. If you have a nanny or in-home caregiver, work with her to plan out activities that will enhance your child's development. Below is a quick list of children's activities and what they learn from them.

    * Reading

          o Turning pages of a book from beginning to end prepares a child for reading and writing by exposing them to the left to right concept.
          o Listening to a story and talking about what happened develops a love of books, helps a child to remember details, and gives them a forum to express their ideas which enhances language development.

    * Blocks

          o Balancing one block on top of another helps a child develop control and physical coordination.
          o Putting blocks in a truck and dumping them out helps a child to understand size, weight, and number concepts which assists them with their math and science.

    * Puzzles and Beads

          o Finishing a puzzle teaches a child to complete a task, enhances self-esteem and produces good study habits.
          o Stringing beads helps a child to coordinate the actions of their eyes and hands and prepares them for reading and writing. Putting beads on a string in a sequence is a math building skill.

    * Arts & Crafts

          o Cutting paper, gluing, drawing a picture, just gathering the supplies helps a child with their small muscle skills, prepares them for reading and writing, and teaches them the value of carrying out a task (independence and study habit building skills).
          o Making Playdough teaches a child to recognize how materials change - a science building exercise.

    * Outdoor Activities

          o Throwing and catching a ball and climbing on outdoor equipment develops hand and eye coordination as well as physical development.
          o Taking the time to look at plants, insects, to notice the difference in these things with the changing of the seasons sharpens a child's observation and science skills.

A child who is given ample opportunities to acquire the skills, attitudes and habits of learning will do well in school and in life. Is your child care arrangement giving your child that opportunity?

Extracted from the book, A Parent's Guide To Early Childhood Education by Diane Trister Dodge and Joanna Phinney. Teaching Strategies, Inc. P.O. Box 42243, Washington, D.C. 2001