A toddler no more than 4 walked around her close friend with a stethoscope in her hand and a real ace bandage.
“On no, you have a broke bone,” she surmised, putting her hands on her waist. She put the stethoscope up to the friends little chest and tisked. “High blood pressure.”
I sat quietly in the background as another child came up to her “teacher” with a pencil and pad. “Hi, Mrs. Molly would what you like to eat for lunch?”
Mrs. Molly’s eyes twinkled at the four-year-old waiter. “I want a bowl of soup and salad, with water to drink please sir.”
“Okay, right away. That will be $300.”
“$300 oh my, I thought it would be more like $6. Why $300?”
“Um, okay. $6.”
My early education colleague and I had to suppress laughter. We were supposed to be invisible on this trip to the daycare as we practiced evaluating daycare programs using the ECERS scale.
In another area of the room, two children were reading books in a comfortable reading nook decorated with pillows and a make shift tent that they could climb into. They weren’t being read to by an adult and had self-selected a field guide on birds and were “reading the pictures.” I heard one of the toddlers narrate a scene about a red bird sitting on the tree with an icky worm it is mouth.
I contrasted the scene with another of a daycare I had visited recently where staff had lined up the children, ages 2 to 4, in front of a television to watch “Sponge Bob” because the center would not pay for the more quality channels like BabyFirst and instead have Nickelodeon playing all morning with commercials that are age inappropriate. Never mind that experts agree television watching should be minimized to no more than twenty minutes per day for toddlers ages, 2 to 4.
I also recalled the drop off experiences I had witnessed at the two centers. At the latter, a child was brought in late by a parent who screamed and cried for mommy as she sat her in a chair in front of the television, “Hush, now. You’ll be okay.” The parent wasn’t encouraged to sit with the child to calm her, but rushed out of the room because “the child would quieten on her own in little bit.”
At the North Carolina, center a child was brought in with her mother quietly. The mother took the child to the art center for about five minutes.
“Draw mommy a quick picture so I want miss you.” The daughter drew a picture and then handed it her to her mommy with a kiss. “Have fun mommy at work.” Not a tear or scream of anxiety as another child came over and wanted to draw the parent a nice picture too.
Using the ECERS scale, I rated the North Carolina center in the 4 to 5s with 7 being perfect on almost all of the categories. The ECERS categories cover everthing from the cleanliness of the center to what it takes to create an atmosphere that focuses on best practices for critical early development of reading and math skills.
Looking at both programs, which one would you want to leave your child at? Remember, this age is the most critical for brain development. Now think about which center could you afford to leave your child at?
As one of the evaluators pointed out to me, the “tuition” for the North Carolina center added up to $7,696 for one child or $148 per week. Most of the children in that center parents worked as doctors, lawyers, or engineers. The centers I visited charged at most $85 to $95 dollars a week which was still a lot considering many of the parents earned only minimum wage.
I suffered more than mother’s guilt when I left my child at one of my best centers in my area that got only about 3.8 on their ECERS evaluation. The points matter when thinking about the best practices for brain development of toddlers.
Have you ever heard of ECERS — Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS-R.) Why it matters.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD): Early Learning and School Readiness Program
The NICHD supports research that specifies the experiences children need from birth to age eight to help them learn to read and ultimately succeed in school. The Child Development and Behavior Branch of the Center for Research for Mothers and Children includes the Early Learning and School Readiness Program, which integrates basic and applied research on early learning and development. Information about the Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development and the Early Child Care Research Network also can be found on the website.
More Than Baby Talk : http://mtbt.fpg.unc.edu/
Five Important Pinterest Boards on Early Reading: