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Old 08-20-2008, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Houston - SoMoCo
187 posts, read 616,181 times
Reputation: 90

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I am trying to find preschool/childcare for my kids -- not so easy to do from 4 states away. I have a few places bookmarked, made a few calls, etc. but of course everything looks good online or sounds good when talking to the school's director. Our timing isn't great as we're competing for spots with families rushing for the start of the new school year, so I'm feeling a bit crunched.

My husband was in Houston last week to secure our rental home there. He was thrilled to tell me there is a very nice-looking learning center just a few blocks away. From what I've seen online, it does look nice and it would be super convenient. I followed up on another center based primarily on the fact that it is NAEYC-accredited. That one is a few miles away, so it's less convenient. I'm the one who would do all the transportation back and forth, though I know my husband would think I'm crazy for adding the additional hassle. Tuition at both schools is pretty comparable. (The accredited one is a few dollars less, but the cost of driving back and forth will negate that.)

With little else to go by until we get there, I'm wondering if anyone here has insight as to whether you'd consider the national accredidation to be worth it, or whether it's really just a feather in the cap for schools which can afford the accredidation program?

Any clear value-add here??

Thanks!!
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Old 08-20-2008, 06:50 PM
 
6,585 posts, read 21,969,364 times
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There are so few of them around here that having NAEYC doesn't mean much. One director told me some of the requirements were ridiculous and most places did not aspired to get it. Hassle factor, costs money, when it doesn't make any difference on enrollment.
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:07 PM
 
Location: Tennessee
603 posts, read 2,034,120 times
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I worked at two daycare centers who were NAEYC certified. Of the three centers my kids have attended, 2 were NAEYC. His current one is not. I remember one of the big qualifications to be NAEYC is that every classroom had to have a black baby doll along with white ones. The worst one we had was the first one (NAEYC certified) because they didn't feed my child when foods she was allergic to was served. I brought food when I saw an allergen on the menu, but they switched menus without warning. I always looked for that accreditation because it made me feel better, but now I don't think it really matters. Talk to the director, ask the questions you deem important (mine is now:"what do you do when a food my child is allergic to is on the menu?"), and tour the center when children are awake so you can see interactions between staff and children. A caring teacher who treats your child well is more important than NAEYC accreditation.
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:40 PM
 
3,842 posts, read 9,067,169 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charz View Post
A caring teacher who treats your child well is more important than NAEYC accreditation.
Exactly.

I was looking at preschools for my son a few months back & questioned the same thing. Seemed to be the school used it as a promotional tool (which makes sense) more than anything else, so I was quickly unimpressed. There are a bunch of hoops to jump through & things to do in order to get NAEYC accredited. At this stage, to be so concerned about accreditation doesn't really seem important. I wanted somewhere where my child was going to be able to explore, have fun, learn, & socialize while at the same time the teacher was caring she would also have a firm hand & not tolerate nonsense.

My son will be attending a parochial preschool & we had a meeting tonight. His teacher straight out impressed me. It's a little bit of a drive & does cost more than public but it's been word of mouth regarding the school. My son (he came with me to the meeting) went to bed tonight asking if he could go back to school tommorow It's exciting & fun to watch.

Now, at the elementary & above stage, accreditation is very important for many reasons. I taught middle school in parochial & have many memories of preparing a year prior to the accreditation team arriving.

But at preschool, it's about them starting to learn how to socialize on their own; play with others; listen to an adult figure other than their parents, etc. Yet, they are still babies & need some care.

The school can be accreditated but that doesn't mean squat about the teachers & how they interact with children. All the teachers just need to have a certain level of education; that's it.
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Old 08-20-2008, 08:58 PM
 
3,070 posts, read 6,295,702 times
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Child care is my profession, though I provide care from my home now, and I went through NAEYC accreditation twice in one center. So, here's my .02 worth. :-)

The goal of NAEYC is to bring child care to a higher quality by reaching higher standards than the state of Texas requires. I personally believe any center/home that goes through the accreditation process will indeed come out on the other end a higher quality child care.

Having said that, is it the end all be all to child care? No. There are all sorts of definitions to quality child care and no lable, including being licensed by the state, can guarantee quality.

So, what should you see in a center that is NAEYC accredited? The most important thing you should see is the higher level of interactions with the children. The center should be a calm, though still noisy most likely, pleasant place where the staff talks to the child on their physical level, with respect. You shouldn't hear a teacher calling out across the room to a child or towering over a child while talking to them and most especially never yelling or degrading a child. You should see a teacher addressing misbehavior immediately and redirecting that child's attention to a desirable behavior.

There are a couple of things that most NAEYC accredited centers/homes do that are different than those who are accredited and you may or may not notice them. One thing is that under the NAEYC philosophy, children serve themselves lunch/snack in a family style setting. This means lunch is put on the table in bowls/plates that are passed around and the children take what they want for lunch. There are of course some limitations for safety reasons, for instance most ages wouldn't be serving up hot soup to themselves.

Generally, these centers have child-directed play scheduled at least twice a day, which is commonly called center time. During this time children choose which area they want to participate in and when. Snack is set out at a table as part of their center time and the children choose when they want to eat snack during that time, learning to take turns as a seat becomes available. Art is also part of this time. No child is forced to participate in any activity they don't want, however they are all encouraged to try everything. This allows the child with sensory issues to not have to fingerpaint if they really don't want to and the child who doesn't like carrots and ranch dip to skip that snack if they want.

The evaluation is a very lengthy and in-depth process and covers far more than will ever be visible to the general population. It usually brings about substantial changes to the center going through the process and can indeed be very stressful and costly. Once our accreditation ended after the second 3 years our owner/director made the decision to no longer be accredited but still operate under the NAEYC philosophy.

Now, my advice is to determine what your top priorities are and start with centers that seem to fit those best. Don't discount home providers either. :-) Go visit several different centers to get your first feel for what they offer in comparison to what you want. Go by your gut instinct to narrow it down and then visit again at a different time than you had previously gone to see how the ones you like best feel then. Also realize that sometimes it comes down to choosing the best of what's available instead of the perfect place.

Many people consider location and hours to be the most important, for others it's cost. Some want a family atmosphere while some want an academy style place. Other things that factor in are lower ratios, extra curricular activities offered, field trips and even size of the program. To me top quality trumps most any deficiences in the other areas.

Last note......any professional child care provider will understand and acknowledge that not every parent/child/provider combination is a perfect match. So, you may have to look deep to find the best one for you.

Good luck!

Oh, and one additional note...I am in Texas, though not in Houston.

Last edited by hypocore; 08-20-2008 at 09:11 PM..
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Old 08-20-2008, 09:08 PM
 
3,070 posts, read 6,295,702 times
Reputation: 4382
Quote:
Originally Posted by charz View Post
I worked at two daycare centers who were NAEYC certified. Of the three centers my kids have attended, 2 were NAEYC. His current one is not. I remember one of the big qualifications to be NAEYC is that every classroom had to have a black baby doll along with white ones. The worst one we had was the first one (NAEYC certified) because they didn't feed my child when foods she was allergic to was served. I brought food when I saw an allergen on the menu, but they switched menus without warning. I always looked for that accreditation because it made me feel better, but now I don't think it really matters. Talk to the director, ask the questions you deem important (mine is now:"what do you do when a food my child is allergic to is on the menu?"), and tour the center when children are awake so you can see interactions between staff and children. A caring teacher who treats your child well is more important than NAEYC accreditation.
One thing here that I wanted to clarify is that the NAEYC accreditation critiria does not state at all that a center must have a black baby doll. What it does say is that throughout the classrooms all should have representations of diversity. This can indeed mean a doll of a race other than white, however it certainly is not exclusive of that. It can mean a picture of a child wearing glasses hanging on the wall, a book about grandparents in the quiet area to read, having available crayons in varying flesh colors for art work, and having a wheelchair in your Little Tikes dollhouse pieces. This is meant to convey there are all sorts of people in the world and some may look different than you. If all that center did was put black dolls in there, they grossly misunderstood the concept. (not to mention that most 'black' dolls look nothing like actual black children as my black husband is quick to point out. haha)
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Old 08-21-2008, 07:01 AM
 
Location: Highland Village
1,433 posts, read 3,404,439 times
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Before being a mom, I worked in three different centers in two different cities. One was accreditated, one was in the process, and one was not. Some of the expectations are a little over the top in my opinion. I also found that some of things needed for accreditation were only done in the process and then kinda went out the window when the process was finished.
Having said that, I agree that you need to look at what is best for your child and your family. A loving teacher goes a long way. Ask about the centers policies for education of its employees. Also the biggest thing I can say is, GO WITH YOUR GUT. We have crazy good instincts so listen to that! Good luck!
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Old 08-21-2008, 09:31 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
4,749 posts, read 11,815,217 times
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I have graduate level training in evaluating the quality of adult/child interactions. I've also had exposure to a lot of preschools because we have moved SO much and have had to re-evaluate preschools several times in a short span of time. I also have a flexible work schedule so I tend to be a parent who drops by at all different times of day to observe how my child is doing and to see the day-to-day vibe of an educational environment. My overall impression of NAEYC accreditation is that it is a meaningful indicator of quality, certainly not the only one, but a good one. Most recently, I couldn't find a NAEYC accredited program that was close enough to our home so we went with one that wasn't. But if I were looking at two programs that impressed me equally, I would choose the one that spent the time, energy, and money to get accredited.
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Old 03-29-2009, 05:50 PM
 
1 posts, read 19,025 times
Reputation: 11
I have worked at several child care centers, NAEYC accredited and not. Seen plenty of good and bad things. In my eyes, a center does not have to be NAEYC accredited to be a good center, it is going to depend on the director and owner of each center. But, somethings that a NAEYC accredited center offers over others are lower children to teacher ratios. Which in my eyes is a huge PLUS! 1:15 in a three year old class is managable but, not quality! At any given time, one of those little ones is going to need all of your attention and the rest of the class will not be getting it Ex: Child who has wet herself and needs help changing, a child who was just dropped off and is very upset, a child who is having a melt down, i could just keep going...these are things that happen severl times every day. So, it really helps to have that second teacher in the classroom. Also, at a NAEYC accredited center teachers are required to get more education not just the 15 annual clock hours, they must obtain their CDA (college level classes) Who does not want a more educated teacher, with more effective stratagies. Children are going to have more developmentally appropriate experiences in the classroom. Small things you may not notice at a NAEYC center, children are taught to turn the faucet off with a papertowel after washing their hands!
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Old 04-12-2009, 04:40 PM
 
Location: Fort Thomas, Arizona
81 posts, read 229,101 times
Reputation: 32
I am in the childcare/summer camp industry, and I can tell you that accreditation is not necessarily all it is cracked up to be. It is true, that accreditation standards are above state licensing standards, but there is a lot more to these accreditation agencies than the general public is aware of. We actually had our accreditation removed/non-renewed one year because our accreditation company did not have the "available local staffing" to come out and do their annual site visit. This resulted in parents wondering what we could have done wrong to have "lost" our accreditation. Since then, we stopped seeking (and paying for) accreditation. If you like the school, don't allow an accreditation (or lack thereof) to turn you off it itself; there's a lot more to an organization than who they have an accreditation from. Hope this helps.
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