There are many factors that should be considered when choosing a day care center for your child, including whether or not the center you consider creates a positive learning environment. Day care centers can help to create a nurturing environment that can serve as a catalyst for learning in a number of different ways.
One of those is way involving all of the children in the learning process. Studies now suggest that children learn much better when there is a high involvement rate. When children are involved at an early age in a learning environment in a day care setting, they receive the opportunity to not only ask questions and discuss various topics, but they also receive the benefit of seeing and hearing other children do the same. This can often present enormous opportunities for learning as other children in the center may pose questions they had not thought of. Interaction between peers can also serve as a tremendous opportunity for learning as well.
Many day care centers today utilize a variety of different learning methods. This is critical as we now know that different individuals learn in different ways. Through a combination of discussions, demonstrations, role plays, audio visuals and activities, children in day care are presented with interesting learning opportunities that help to ensure the needs of all children are met. In a quality day care program, children will receive the benefit of interaction with both children their own age, as well as adult who can guide them in their learning experience.
Toward that end, it is important for parents to know what to look for when assessing the learning environment of prospective day cares. The best learning environments will be structured so that children are able to freely move among the various activities. They should be able to do so at their own page. A play-based environment will emphasize emotional and social development which allows children to communicate effectively with their peers and adults, while also developing strong problem-solving skills that will serve them well later on in life.
Quality day cares that focus on establish a positive learning environment will also typically include a balance of various activities. While time will be allowed for structured activities and play, there will also be time for self-directed play as well. In addition, learning will typically involve activities that engage each of the senses. For instance, if children are learning about the letter ‘A’, they may be exposed to apples in several different colors. The provider or teacher may allow them to touch and smell the different apples. During snack time, children have the opportunity to taste the apples. They may also have the chance to describe the way the apple smells, feels and tastes. In some day care centers, there may even be an activity that involves discussing the apple seeds, listening to a story about apples and possibly even planting an apple tree.
The best day care centers will establish a positive learning environment by making certain there are age-appropriate toys and activities for all ages. For instance, for ages eight months to twelve months, children can be provided with simple picture books and balls. Children in this age group will also benefit from interactive games. Beginning at age eighteen months, children will receive exposure to more complex toys, including manipulative toys such as dress-up clothes, puzzles, etc. that will help them to work out solutions to problems encountered on a daily basis and explore their world.
When children are able to explore the world around them in groups of their own peers, they often benefit from the opportunity to learn from one another, and therefore faster than when on their own. Not only are they able to take advantage of shared knowledge, but they also receive the chance to learn about other cultures and develop critical socialization skills that will serve them well not only when they enter school, but also later on in life as well. Quality day care centers encourage children to actually learn from one another and provide activities that each of the children can actively participate and engage in. Through the encouragement of behaviors that will lead toward positive learning experiences and attitudes, children will form a foundation from an early age that will assist them in future academic endeavors. The positive learning experience children are exposed to in a day care center can prove to be invaluable for setting them upon a path for future success.