Good Provider Can 'Map' Growth
By:JUDY LYDEN Scripps Howard News Service

A child's development depends on a lot of things, but good child care and good teachers at the primary level are critical. When a knowledgeable provider or teacher watches a room of children, it's her job to recognize different temperaments in the sea of personalities.

Good providers keep an eye on every child's development. It's possible for her to "map" the physical and social growth of the children in her care. Emotions are harder to figure out, but a caring provider will understand what each child means more than what he does.

The knowledge of what very young children should be doing at what age is not a big secret. Although theories of child development vary, and experts may argue about the "windows of opportunity," experience dictates what behaviors and skills are in the average ranges for what ages.

Understanding each child takes consistent interest. That's important in helping each child master skills as well as guiding each one past the kiddie pitfalls. And pitfalls are plentiful in very young development; they are called delays. Delays can be mild to serious; they involve social, physical, emotional and spiritual qualities of the child.

Sometimes delays occur because children have not been exposed to certain necessary parts of life: positive discipline, the right kind of productive attention, solid, sensible routines, order of time and talent and genuine loving consistency from adults.

At the same time, accelerations occur when careful adults have taught and retaught an interested child, or a precocious child has taught himself.

The three most important things to look for in good child care are not material assets.

Good care does require proper tools, but more important, good care requires the proper "heartscapes" that foster the kind of development that produces solid adults.

Look for spiritual satisfaction: A child is content with who he is becoming. He is sure he is understood and loved. Signal? A child enjoys going to day care and tells his parents something good about what he accomplished.

Look for intellectual stimulation: He is learning consistently. The days are filled with exploration and experimentation. Signal? He is more and more aware of the world around him and verbalizes it with excitement.

Look for emotional peace: A child makes friends and enjoys good constructive play. Signal? Children play productively.

(Judy Lyden is a licensed day-care provider. Write to her: c/o The Evansville Courier, P.O. Box 268, Evansville, IN 47702, or e-mail to jlyden@evansville.net.

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