Editor’s note: This post was originally published on Sep 1, 2014.
Looking for a great daycare for your child? The ones that are doing it right don’t just see them themselves as caretakers; they understand they are early childhood educators (ECEs). These daycares see the benefit of structured and unstructured play, and prioritize the importance of physical literacy, physical activity, and all the tools kids need for emotional and academic success.
We turned to Active for Life contributor and child development expert, Dawne Clark, to help generate this list of go-to questions parents can ask potential daycares.
What to ask your childcare provider about physical literacy and physical activity
- Do you understand the importance of physical literacy and physical activity for children? Is it important to the other parents who are part of the centre’s community?
- Are the ECEs educated to an appropriate standard? (Note: All provinces are different, Ontario being one of the better ones, but some provinces allow teachers to work in daycare with only a 50-hour orientation course.)
- Where and how do the children spend their days? (You should expect a rich and stimulating environment that encourages kids to interact with books, in-room toys, and equipment. Avoid daycares that keep kids desk-bound doing worksheets.)
- Is there opportunity for meaningful unstructured play so my child can develop both social and physical skills? Are children taught how to handle conflict resolution with their friends?
- Are children taught about their emotions and how to name those emotions? Do your ECEs help my child learn how to regulate emotions, as opposed to enforcing compliance?
- Is there a quiet place children can go when they get overheated? (Note: We’re referring to physical overheating, not emotional, so don’t confuse this with a time-out or punishment space.)
- How much physical activity is done indoors and is there an easily accessible outdoor space? Can young children get there without needing to be in a stroller? Are kids encouraged to be outside in all weather? How do you safely provide very young children with opportunities for physical activity and motor skill development?
How to advocate for physical literacy in your daycare
Already have a child in daycare but feel they’re striking out when it comes to physical literacy? Not to worry. Here are some tips to help you can step up to the plate and advocate for the positive changes you wish to see.
- Advocate with knowledge. Understand the current regulations for your area. Ensure your centre is meeting those requirements.
- Ask how you can help. It can be as simple as making sure parents bring weather-appropriate clothing, or talking to the other parents to make sure you’re all on same page.
- Pass along our fundamental skill development lesson plans created specifically for daycares.
- Direct your centre’s staff to our lesson plans that were developed for educators, caregivers, camp leaders, and after-school program leaders who want to deliver physical literacy instruction to children.
- Support the professional development of the ECEs. This may require closing centres from time to time but is important for infusing new ideas and methods into your child’s care.
- Lobby the government to ensure that the child care centres we are creating can address all needs.
If you have anything to add to this list please let us know in the comments section below. Let’s all help each other!