How teachers can spot a high quality child care program

Parents are not the only ones looking for a high quality program. Teachers in the early childcare field look for high quality programs to work in. There are key features that teachers can look for to know that they are entering a program that supports staff and encourages growth.

The following are signs of a high quality childcare program for teachers new to the field.

1. How is the overall atmosphere of the center

When you walk into a center take a moment to listen and look around. Are the kids and staff happy, relaxed, and engaged? Or do the teachers seem stressed and overworked?  Teachers that are stressed and overworked is an indication that the administrative staff is not giving support. The administrative staff should have an organized schedule of the day and offer professional resources to assist teachers in their continuing education.  During the interview process, the director should outline your daily schedule and discuss how a teacher maintains the required annual training hours.

2. How is the physical environment?

Throughout the day, the classroom environment will get messy when kids are working and playing, but overall centers should be clean and organized. It is common for teachers to be responsible for daily clean up. If the center is disorganized and dirty it could mean that teachers are overworked and do not have time to keep up with this part of the job.

Another indicator is what is hung on the walls. Do you see children’s work displayed? Do you see pictures of the children and their families? You should also see informational boards for parents and teachers that share important information about the center. These are all items that should be displayed and show that staff have a commitment to creating a high quality center.

3. Are teachers and parents are engaged?

From infant to Pre-k, teachers should use positive talk and be responsive to children and their needs. Interactions between teachers are courtesy and respectful. Parent engagement is also important. Do teachers seem comfortable talking to the parents? Do the parents look like they want to have conversations with the teachers? Positive interactions between these groups show that they enjoy being a part of this community. 

4. Are children engaged?  

Take a moment to observe the children. Are the children busy playing and interacting with each other and teachers. Are children given time to finish a puzzle or block tower. Are they given time to learn how to be independent. It is easier for a teacher to throw a plate away or wash a child’s hands for them, but a high quality center gives children the ability to be independent.

5. How is the daily communication?

High quality child care centers have open and clear communication between teachers and parents. Bulletin boards, notes home, progress reports and newsletters are all forms of open communication. Many schools  use apps or digital communication. During the interview ask what type of communication is used to relay information to parents.

When looking for a high quality center always ask, “Is this a good fit for my teaching style and personality.” This is your job and you want to make sure you are comfortable in your surroundings.  A comfortable environment will allow you to flourish in your teaching skills and maintain an organized classroom.

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