What is High Quality Child Care?
The Elements of Quality Child Care
Children can experience high-quality child care in any type of child-care setting: at home, in a child-care centre or a family child-care home. High-quality child care begins by protecting a child's health and safety, but goes much further to provide an experience that actively supports the child's development. Research tells us that the following characteristics are fundamental to high-quality care:
· A high adult-child ratio. The fewer children under one adult's care, the better. A high adult-child ratio is associated with closer attachment between the child and the caregiver, and to children who are more considerate and less aggressive towards other children.
· high adult-child ratio—ideally, 1:3 for children under two years, 1:6 for children aged two to three and 1:8 for preschoolers—is also linked with children being more independent when they reach grade one, with better cognitive development, communication and social skills. Children who attend child-care centres with higher adult-child ratios also see themselves as more competent.
· Small group sizes. Small group sizes are associated with children who are more cooperative, less hostile and better behaved than children in larger groups. The children in small groups also talk and play more with other children and score higher on tests of social ability and readiness to read.
· Post-secondary training/education. Child-care providers with college diplomas or university degrees in early-childhood education are more responsive to the needs of the children in their care. Their training helps them to provide the children in their care with activities that are both stimulating and appropriate to their levels of development; as a result, the children under their care score higher than others of the same age on standard tests of language development.
· A positive care provider–child relationship. When child-care providers spend a lot of time with the children, are sensitive and responsive and actively interested in them and encourage them to talk, the children;
o are more engaged with the world around them;
o spend less time in aimless wandering; and
o have higher levels of language development and play.
· Well-defined spaces. Children thrive in settings where there are clear boundaries between group space and activity areas, whether indoors or outside. Well-defined spaces are associated with positive interactions among children and between adults and children, and are associated with more time spent exploring the environment.
· Well-structured, well-planned curricula. Children like routine and respond well to a
· familiar daily schedule. Children who attend child care that provides organized and age-appropriate activities—while offering children the chance to pick and choose what they want to do—score higher on cognitive and language tests and show greater levels of creativity. Children who are asked to do things that are not appropriate to their age or stage of development are likely to show higher levels of stress.
· Significant parental involvement. A good relationship between a child-care provider and a parent—where each respects the other, there is good two-way communication and the parent is involved as a partner in the child's care—helps the child-care provider to interact more with the child and the child to interact better with other children.