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In-Home Care vs. Commercial Daycare Centers

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: I have a two and a half-year-old son. He attends an "in-home" day care. The provider is licensed and has her CDA, and he appears to be very happy there. The other children range in age from nine months to three years. There are two other children his age to play with. My friends and family are now saying that maybe he should be with more children his own age, in an environment that has more to offer, such as art, computers, and language. I wonder if there is a difference between the commercial day cares that may have more children his age and a wider curriculum, and a smaller, homey day care?

A: There are quite a few differences between in-home care and commercial daycare centers. The centers have more children, more teachers, much larger spaces, and more structured activities. Whether it is better for a child to be with an in-home care provider or at a commercial center depends on the quality of the caregivers, the programs offered, and the needs of the child.

In general, legislation requires the staff of commercial daycare centers to have some training in early childhood education. In-home providers may not have as much training; however, your caregiver appears well-qualified.

You certainly shouldn't move your son to a commercial center because they have computers and a wider curriculum. People who push computers and structured learning activities for young children simply don't understand that it is play that teaches kids the important things they need to know. This is how they discover that wood floats and coins sink as they play with these objects in a tub of water.

Your son has an ample number of playmates his age in the in-home setting. There are few advantages to putting him in contact with more children. At his age, children often prefer to play by themselves or with just one child. Also, he is less likely to pick up illnesses with a smaller number of children.

In-home care is giving your child the chance to bond with just one caregiver. If you put him in a daycare center, he will have more than one caregiver. There's also a good chance that he'll have many caregivers, because centers have a very high staff turnover rate.

If your child is happy, then there are no real gains to uprooting him. When he is three and a half or four, you might want to consider enrolling him part-time in a preschool to smooth the transition to kindergarten.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


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