Updated by Hope Starts Here
Enrollment, School Readiness

What makes an excellent early childhood care and learning program?

Lasted Updated July 23, 2022
What should you look for when trying to find the right early learning program?

ADULT-TO-CHILD RATIO

Ask how many children there are for each adult. You want your child to get plenty of attention. This is especially important for younger children. Programs where a consistent routine is followed allow children to feel safe and find comfort in knowing what will happen each day.

DAILY ROUTINE

Routines help children learn essential life skills, and very often more quickly adapt to care outside of their home.

ENGAGED CHILDREN

Children within a program should be actively engaged, and there should be stimulating materials available in a safe physical setting within all of the classrooms.

INTERACTIONS

Warm, responsive interactions between the staff, children and positive relationship experiences between parents and staff.

WHOLE-CHILD CURRICULUM

The whole-child approach to teaching supports and nurtures all areas of children’s development and learning–from social-emotional and cognitive skills to literacy, math, and science understanding.

GROUP SIZE

Find out how many children are in the assigned groups (or classrooms). The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends that babies need a group size of no more than six to eight in a room, and 4-year-olds should be in a group of no more than 16-20 children pre-COVID-19.

ACCREDITATION

Find out if the child care provider has been accredited by a national organization. Accredited programs have voluntarily met standards for child care that are higher than state licensing requirements.

QUALITY RATING

If the program is a licensed child care center, find out if it is participating in the state Quality Start program. Quality Start is Michigan’s voluntary star rating system for childcare. Centers may earn up to five stars based on program quality, staff credentials and teacher-to-child ratios.

TURNOVER

Check how long the child care providers have been at the center or providing care in their homes.

CHILD CARE PROVIDER QUALIFICATIONS

Ask about the child care providers’ training and education. Child care providers with special training in working with children are better able to help your child learn.

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