Talking to families about quality early learning
When families are choosing child care/ early learning programs, one of their most valued sources are people in their lives. Word of mouth plays a huge part in how families choose a child care/ early learning program.
Every time you connect with a family that has small children, you have the opportunity to make it a “teachable moment.” Use this Virtual Guide to help you find the right words.
Families need to feel comfortable with the activities they do at home and the child care/ early learning program they choose, but helping them know what to look for that research has shown improve children’s development can help them make the right choices for their family.
So, for example, a parent may rave about a particular teacher because she is so friendly and seems to love the children. Of course, this is important, but encourage the parent to also ask about the teacher’s education, does she have a Child Development Associate (CDA) or college degree in early childhood education?
For families that are shy about asking these kinds of questions, they can use the quality child care checklist to make it easier to ask “according to my checklist, I’m supposed to ask you..” Quality programs will be comfortable answering these questions because they know how important they are!
Some tips that other families shared:
- Make sure families understand the importance of learning from birth through age five. Help them understand this time is crucial to their child’s learning like no other time in their lives.
- Reinforce that the parents are the child’s first teacher, and what they do at home will have a big impact on how they do in school.
- Stress the importance of social interaction and attending a child care/ early learning program at least part time before kindergarten. Parents may be able to teach the language and math skills at home, but cannot teach the social skills with other children and other adults at home.
- Visit several child care/ early learning programs before making a decision; after you’ve made your choice, continue to visit often and at different times during the day.
Here are some resources to help you talk to families about quality early learning:
- The fun activities to help young children develop page has links to great activity calendars and other items that families can use at home or on the go. The activities are linked to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Standards.
- Simple ways to help young children learn/choosing a child care program bookmark. This bookmark has simple tips that families can take with them!
- Tips for choosing a quality child care/early learning program – includes information on key areas of quality such as a safe and healthy place for young children; good teachers; well-designed classrooms with appropriate learning activities; and treating families as partners in their children’s learning. You can print out a flyer to take with you as well.
- Be Your Child’s Champion – check out the chapter on Communicating Why Child Care is Important. Meet Rosa who addresses concerns with her Mama about why quality child care is important. The chapter includes helpful worksheets to prepare for your conversation and to jot down next steps after you talk.
- Early Learning GPS (Guiding Parents Smoothly). The Early Learning GPS helps guide families through what’s most important to know and be able to do to help their young child grow. The 10-question guide is very interactive, and can help open the door for more conversation. Great for families to use on their own or for professionals to use with families.