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Spirit & Parenting

When looking for child care it is important to remain calm and levelheaded. Think - what are the priorities for good child care? Remember, you are interested in raising a child who is conscious of spirit. A safe and loving, yet stimulating environment is a good start. But there is of course more to consider: the age of the child and if you need full or part time care.

If child care must be found for an infant, it would make sense to find someone the child already knows, such as the child's mother/father, grandmother/father, aunt/uncle or perhaps a neighbor or good friend. One to one is best for an infant, but it could be acceptable, depending on the caregiver, to have an older child also (at least 3 years). Further, it is best to have your infant in a home situation, as it is more apt to be comfortable for the child. Toddlers (1-2 years) deal best with multiage grouping. They are not very good at dealing with other toddlers, although there are exceptions of course. They do like to be around other children, they just can't be expected to play with them. The grouping is best at no more than 3 or possibly 4 children per care giver. Again, a home situation is optimal, especially since there is often a wide range of napping needs.

Preschoolers (3-5) love to play with other children and are best in a situation with about a 6 to 1 ratio. A more school-like environment is possible for preschoolers. However, watch the size of the grouping, as large groups can be overwhelming for many three or four year olds.

If before or after school care is needed for a school age child, do not forget that they will probably spend the school day with 25 or so children in their classroom. Therefore wouldn't it be wonderful to find a situation for your child where they can get more individual attention? The placement might provide them with more of an opportunity to go outside and play in their own creative way, instead of having every minute of their day "organized" by someone else.

So, what do you look for when visiting a child care situation? First, it is good to visit and observe as many places as possible. Here are some questions to consider: How does the care giver greet you and your child? Is he or she warm but not "in your face"? Does he/she address your child in a relaxed but engaging way? How does the environment make you feel? Is the space inviting and comfortable? Are there age appropriate materials (such as toys, games, puzzles, books and art supplies) available? Are they arranged in a welcoming, safe, and organized way? Are the bathroom facilities appropriate? Is there comfortable nap time space available? Ask the caregiver if there is any routine to their day or to describe a typical day. Do they go out on a regular basis? How are the children supervised during outdoor play? Ask to see the outside play area. Ask what kind of strategies the care giver uses for discipline or problem behavior. Observe how your child reacts to the situation.

Leaving your child in another's care can be very difficult. Yet if you spend time searching and use your knowledge of your child and your intuition, it could be much less difficult then you may think.

One more piece of advice, when you have decided which is the best place for your child; relax. Yes, you need to be vigilant and observant of your child and his/her situation. However, if you don't really feel comfortable with the care giver or the environment, your child will feel it. This can effect their ability to be comfortable and happy. Become friends with the caregiver and maybe even trust and love this person. It is the best way for your child to have a good adjustment and experience in child care.

Peace Be With You -