Tips for finding the right daycare or preschool this summer
Shirley Terry, a teacher at St. Giles Preschool, and Katie Allen, director of St. James Day School, both in Greenville, know that parents are a child’s first teachers and summer is prime time for learning — but for many Upstate parents, it also means locating a preschool or daycare summer camp for their youngster while they themselves are at work.
Since no two children learn at the same rate, it is fortunate that here in the Upstate there are multiple choices for parents to pinpoint that perfect program for preschool-age children.
“They need to start public school knowing more than they used to,” Terry said, adding children also need need practice with socialization, sharing, independence and routine.
Allen reinforces the sentiment.
“An organized program helps children learn to navigate through situations apart from parents-such as taking turns, sharing, following directions and making new friends,” she said.
Both educators agree that selecting a program that is the perfect fit for young children starts with safety. Parents should ask about security protocols and make note of the screening process for staff.
From there, the learning center needs to foster an environment where children love to learn. Here in the Upstate daycares and preschools have a variety of programs for young children that can include language, music and extra-curricular activities.
“Whether a program is rigorous or not, whether it is academically superior or not cannot supplant the ultimate goal of foundational learning which is to help children feel confident, successful and eager to learn,” Allen said.
Terry encourages parents to have a schedule or definite routine for preschool or camp through the summer.
“Two year olds thrive on schedules — it lets them know what to expect,” she said.
Being organized the night before helps many little ones feel in control and prepared for the next day. Knowing what is expected and the outcomes of being set ahead of time means a happy child and parent, she added.
In the car line for drop off and pick up, Terry suggests making it a window of time where the emphasis is solely on the child transition from home to learning and back. While it is easy to already be thinking of the next task, many children need that focused assurance to make a smooth changeover. Turning off the music, ignoring phone distractions and having a hello/goodbye catch phrase can put children at ease and curb anxiety. In that brief time, the teacher can provide a quick accounting of the daily activities which parents can reinforce at home through conversation and play.
Children “live in the teachable moment,” Allen said. “Each experience has the potential for learning.”
Which means that preschool, day camp or child care must reflect the expectations of the parents for the well-being of the child. Upstate parents who select a school with a dynamic summer program could very well find themselves ahead of the game without the need to transition their young child to a new preschool for the fall.