a Quality Childcare Program in the US
National Association for the Education
Young Children (NAEYC), the oldest and largest childcare accrediting
organization in the U.S., has published a set of guidelines which they
use to accredit schools and childcare centers; these can also help you
decide whether a particular center is of high quality.
a number of characteristics associated with high quality programs. Based
on the Academy's Criteria, here are some things to consider as you visit
Are the children in the program generally comfortable, relaxed, and
happy, and involved in play and other activities? Happy, relaxed children
who are enjoying themselves as they play and learn is one of the best
signs of a good program. See if there is an ample variety of materials
for children of this age group. Would your child enjoy this setting?
Are there sufficient numbers of adults with specialized training in
early childhood development and education? The younger the child, the
more individualized attention is needed. The Academy's Criteria recommend
that all groups have at least two teachers. Infants should be in groups
of no more than 6 to 8 children; 2- to 3-year-olds should be in groups
of 10 to 14 children; and 4- to 5-year-olds should be in groups of 16
to 20 children. Specialized training in child development and early
education helps assure that staff understand how children grow and learn
so they can be more effective teachers and caregivers.
Do adult expectations vary appropriately for children of differing ages
and interests? Groups for infants and toddlers will look quite different
from groups for older children. Toys and materials should vary by age
as should teachers' expectations for children. In addition, teachers
and caregivers should recognize and respect individual differences in
children's abilities, interests, and preferences.
Are all areas of child's development stressed equally, with time and
attention being devoted to cognitive development, social and emotional
development, and physical development? High quality early childhood
programs do much more than help children learn numbers, shapes, and
colors. Good programs help children learn how to learn: to question
why and discover alternative answers; to get along with others; and
to use their developing language, thinking, and motor skills.
Do the staff meet regularly to plan and evaluate the program? Planning
should reflect a balance of activities between vigorous outdoor play
and quiet indoor play. Activities should allow ample time for children
to work and play individually or in small groups, with the focus on
activities that are child initiated as opposed to teacher directed.
Flexibility, however, is also key. Staff should be willing to adjust
the daily activities to meet children's individual needs and interests.
Are parents welcome to observe, discuss policies, make suggestions,
and participate in the work of the program? Close communication between
parents and staff is vital. Staff should regularly discuss highlights
of the child's experiences with parents and show respect for families
of varying cultures and backgrounds."
© 1999 National Association for the Education of Young Children
National Academy of Early Childhood Programs/NAEYC is not connected
with and is not responsible for the administration, acts, personnel,
property, or practices of accredited programs. Written complaints about
accredited programs should be sent to the Academy.
also contact NYEAC through mail or phone at:
Academy of Early Childhood Programs NAEYC 1509 16th Street, N.W. Washington,
DC 20036-1426 Phone: 202-232-8777 or 800-424-2460, ext. 360 FAX: 202-328-1846