• Staff members are caring and positive with the children and youth. Discipline is consistent, firm, and respectful.
• Program goals and activities are focused on the whole child, not just on sports skills, art techniques, or things a child has learned. Each child is appreciated for his unique abilities.
• Activities are varied. They include a range of physical abilities, learning styles, interests, and cultures. For example, both group projects and individual spaces are available. There are sports, arts, and science opportunities. There is a quiet place to read books. A place to complete homework is provided. Different cultures are frequently celebrated.
• Children and youth are encouraged to help plan the program and to volunteer in community service projects.
• Families are kept informed of program activities and are invited to be actively involved.
• Program administrators train their staff well and encourage them to help plan goals and evaluate effectiveness.
These suggestions are likely to help you select a program that will help, not hinder, your child’s development. It would be a good idea to visit the center you are considering. Ask the administrators questions about their goals and practices. Spend some time observing the children and staff in action. Your youngster deserves the best setting possible when she is away from you.
Source: Carole Gnatuk, Extension Specialist for Child Development, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture