HOME-BASED DAYCARE – OR – PRESCHOOL?
If you are a working parent with a toddler, you’re probably faced with the question of, “Should I entrust my child to a home based daycare or to a large preschool?” As I have had the privilege of speaking with dozens of parents who had this same question, I thought it would be helpful for me to share what I have discovered concerning these two options.
The environment of a home-based daycare typically offers a cozy feeling of being at home. This can be achieved by caring for a small group of children of varied ages, which creates a comfortable family environment.
Preschools typically provide a friendly school setting for little ones, where the children are grouped with their peers and in-turn have the opportunity to socialize with children of the same age.
A low child-to-teacher ratio is a very important consideration for a parent. A low ratio helps nurture attachment and allows the one-on-one attention that is needed by toddlers. When choosing a caregiver, It is important to pay attention to the ages of the other children being cared for along with you toddler. Keep in mind that infants require more time and attention and comparatively, four or five year olds, require less.
Within a home-based daycare setting there is usually one caregiver for all of the children receiving care throughout the day.
State Licensing requires preschools with toddler programs to maintain a low 6/1 ratio where all of the children being cared for are within the same age group.
As you consider your child’s academic growth, most home-based daycares provide low key learning experiences, working with the children in their care much as a parent would.
A quality preschool offers a well-planned schedule with periods of free-play, structured learning activities, outside play, meal/snack times, and rest time; all addressing a toddlers cognitive, social, emotional, and physical development.
When considering safety, all preschools must be licensed by the State and are closely monitored in regard to fire inspections, cleanliness, employee education and qualifications; this includes CPR, first aid, and background checks.
Please be aware as you make you decision, not all home-based daycare facilities need to be licensed; meaning they aren’t subject to the same inspections and regulations.
In regard to scheduling, home-based daycares tend to be less structured and offer more flexibility. This is especially useful if you are delayed at work and cannot pick-up your child on time.
Conversely, many preschools assess late fees if children have to stay past their scheduled pick-up time.
As you can see, both settings offer very nice, yet distinctly different options; recognizing that each child is unique and every family is different, with its own set of needs and values. I hope this information is helpful in your decision making process and that you find one of these options to be the best choice for you and your toddler.
Diane Hurst is the Director of Kimber Hills Preschool. She has served the children and families at Fremont Community Church and Kimber Hills Preschool for more than 30 years.