What Are the Functions of Daycare?
Many parents rely on daycare centers to care for their children while they work. While some parents may just consider a professional daycare center to be the safest option for babysitting, there are many benefits and functions of a daycare center. Children who attend daycare centers benefit from the wide variety of social and educational opportunities the center provides. Daycare centers can be profitable small businesses for those who love working with children.
The primary function of a daycare center is to provide a safe and secure environment with quality caregivers, so that parents have the peace of mind of knowing their children are safe while they work. Each state has regulations in place that require compliance with established safety practices that you will need to consider before choosing a location for your daycare center. Many states have departments dedicated to childcare licensing and conduct regular routine inspections of daycare facilities as well as responding to complaints. In these states, even in-home daycare providers must meet safety requirements and licensing rules.
From infants through preschool-aged kids, most daycare centers have planned educational activities that help build a foundation for later school success. Children learn through play as well as structured learning programs. Most children who attend a daycare through the preschool level are able to recognize and write letters and sight words and can do basic addition and subtraction. This makes the transition to kindergarten much easier, and gives them a head start on learning skills.
Unless you are offering a pre-kindergarten program, a good mix of reading, counting, art and writing will provide the children in your care the educational opportunities they need. Larger daycare centers tend to have a set schedule and operate more like a traditional school.
One of the best benefits a child receives while attending a daycare program is socialization. Through play with peers and interactions with adult staff members, children learn valuable social skills including sharing, compromising and language skills. Children who do not have access to peer groups tend to have a harder time adjusting to elementary school than those that attend daycare or preschool. Consider choosing play equipment that allows for exploring roles, such as toy kitchens and costume pieces for dressing up.
Daycare centers must provide healthy, well-rounded meals and snacks. Most states have regulations governing the types of foods and drinks that may be provided while children are attending daycare. Daycare centers are also responsible for ensuring children receive adequate opportunities for physical fitness. Usually these goals are achieved through a combination of song and dance, outdoor play and structured activities. Check with your state's licensing department to see if any programs exist that may help you ensure your daycare meets the nutritional requirements. If you serve a low-income area, some states have programs that help offset the cost of healthy food, drinks and snacks.