Finding the right daycare facility is a complicated and frustrating task. It is essential to know how the classrooms are divided. There are many different things that a parent should look at when it comes to the division of classrooms. It is important because the way a childcare classroom is divided has a direct impact on the quality of the childcare facility. When there are too many children under the supervision of just one person, it put the worker at a higher risk of becoming overwhelmed and frustrated, which can become a risk to the children. There can also be a risk to the children based on the age groups being put together. For example, placing two-year-old children in the class with infants can increase the risk of harm to the children.
Not only will the workers quickly become overwhelmed with the varying needs, but they are unable to pay attention to a group of children every single second. With the varying ages of needs, abilities, and behaviors, this could put a child more at risk. You also want to consider how the division of classroom settings vary when a child has special needs. Here are some of the specific things you should look for and how it can affect the quality of care being provided to your child.
One way that Preschools and Daycares divide their classrooms is by the ages of the children. First off, Preschools and Daycares are not the same things. Preschool is aimed at the older early childhood group and the goal is to teach them skills necessary to start school. Daycares provide care for children while their caregivers are at work. Daycares typically take children from infancy up to school age. There are daycares that will provide care for older children during the summer months. Most age groups are divided based on the age and skill set of the child at that age. Generally, infants are in a room together. This is normally from birth up to 12 months (or less). Some daycares move children from the infant room when they begin to walk. As children begin to develop skills, they require a higher level of attention. To keep the infants safe, toddlers typically have their own room. Some daycares will put children 12- 24 months in a room together. Then there will be a 2-year-old room, a 3-year-old room, and a 4-year-old room.
Children are divided based on age so that their individual developmental needs can be met based on their age and to protect the safety of the children. There are times where children will stay in the infant room until 18 months and 18 months-3 will be in the same room. The important thing is to look at the teacher to child ratio, the age and skills of the child, and whether the staff is meeting the needs of the children.
Classrooms are also divided based on the number of children in the class. Ratios vary from one location to the next. It is important to know the ratios required by law for your setting. For example, in some states, the infant teacher ratio is 1:5. If there are more infants in the room, another teacher is required to ensure the children are safe. There are also square foot ratios. A child care classroom is required to be so many square feet per child and the facility is required to have a specific number of bathrooms per child. This is to ensure that the needs of the children are being met, the teachers do not become overwhelmed, and the children are safe. It is critical that these ratios are being followed. If you find out that a childcare setting is not following these ratios it is important for you to consider the increased risk to the child.
Finally, if you have a child with special needs, it is important to understand that federal law mandates they are mainstreamed in the less restrictive environment. Placing these children in separate classrooms is against the law and is discrimination. Find out how the special needs of your child affect the required ratios and make sure the facility is willing to accommodate your child.