What does a quality early learning program look like?

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The process of choosing an early learning program for your child can feel very daunting!  So many people give you advice and yet typically those people are not early childhood educators.  If you aren’t feeling well, you typically would see your health care provider.  If you need legal advice you contact a lawyer.  If you need an early learning program for your child you call your…?  You call an early learning program!

It is so important to find a school that works best not only for your child, but your entire family.  A program that creates an environment that is welcoming, safe, and nurturing.  With these 3 things in place a child will grow to be a confident person; eager to learn and ready to take advantage of all of the amazing learning opportunities a quality program has to offer!

So, what does quality look like?  When looking for an early learning program look for the following things:

* Staff credential.  Do the teachers have a degree in Early Childhood Education?

* Low staff turn over.  Knight Hall has an average tenure of 8 years!

* The curriculum should be based on solid educational theories and have an assessment that lines up nicely!

* Teachers should be actively involved with the children

* Children should be engaged and have options in the class room

* The classroom is organized, labeled and large enough for children to move from one area to another.  Please do not confuse organized with neat!  A typical class room is busy!  When I say organized I mean that shelves are labeled, materials have a specific place to be and that children are able to find and replace material with ease.  Our class rooms are “neat” twice a day, when we open and when we close!  In between there is a whole lot of learning going on and learning is messy!

* The walls should show children’s work, not teachers.  Activities and materials should be open-ended.  The emphasis here is on the process, not the end result.  The process is where the meat of learning lies.

* Most of all it should feel good when you walk in the door!

Please do not hesitate to ask the hard questions!  Plan to visit the program at least 2 time, one scheduled, one un-scheduled.  Plant yourself in a class room and watch and listen to what is happening.  Plan to visit at least 3 different schools.  This is the best way to get a sense of the right school for your family!

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