Children learn best when they:
Interact with others, both children and adults.
Work actively with material.
Are given opportunities to learn through meaningful and interesting activities.
Are able to work at their own development level.
Are able to predict routines and experiences.
Caregivers teach best when they:
Respect childrens developmental needs, characteristics and cultures.
Are sensitive and responsive to children.
Develop trusting relationships with children.
Empathize with children.
Accommodate practices for children with special needs.
Are unified with other caregivers in their responses to and treatment of children.
Value and acknowledge childrens expression of affect, both positive and negative.
Set realistic limits for children without shame or blame.
Care for ill children by offering emotional support as well as attending to their physical needs.
Centers should have a:
State-approved license and NAEYC accreditation.
Educated teaching staff.
Appropriate student-teacher ratios (for example, 3:1 for infants, 4:1 for 1- to 2-year-olds, 5:1 for 3-year-olds, 8:1 for 4-year-olds).
Open-door policy that welcomes parental observation and participation.
Written policies (for example, regarding illness).
Health and safety precautions:
Sanitary diapering (washing hands, cleaning surfaces)
Covered electrical outlets
Toxic substances kept out of childrens reach
Staff training on prevention of physical disease/CPR/first aid
Workshops/training/classes for staff on early childhood practices.
What changes are needed?
McCartney suggests the following changes are imperative to improving the quality of child care in the United States:
Strengthen standards and regulations for child-care programs.
Require initial and ongoing training for staff working in child-care programs.
Find ways to recruit and retain more highly educated and skilled staff.
Inform parents about the importance of quality child care and its effects on children. Identify ways to support the costs of higher-quality child care.