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5 Important Trends in Childcare

In the current age of technology, new gadgets and tech tidbits equate to fresh yearly trends in all industries, but in the realm of childcare, progressive stances on early childhood education and general safety have complemented digital advancements to offer a multitude of novel opportunities and services.

In November, an article published on verywellfamily.com detailed the top 12 childcare trends of which families should be aware. The piece covered everything from budget-minded agencies to the proliferation of “drop-in” childcare. Here are the five most relevant trends to parents in all circumstances:


Early Education

Higher standards within schools and among parents, along with recent research supporting the ability of young children to absorb early-learning concepts, have added the title of teacher to the resumes of nannies and childcare professionals.

A 2016 article in Time highlighted a study by the Ecole normal superieure in Paris, France, which suggests infants are capable of understanding more than previously thought. Metacognition, described as an awareness of what is not known or easily understood, can start in children as young as 20 months.

A firm grasp on colors and shapes, Scholastic maintains, should precede learning even letters and numbers and aids a child’s development. Recognition of colors helps a little one discern differences among things the child is seeing, and understanding shapes allows for identification and organization of visual information.

To encourage mastery of these early concepts—which can also include learning to count, reciting the alphabet, memorizing animal names and sounds, and becoming familiar with food items—nannies, care centers and early education programs have adopted play-based strategies.

A February article in online journal The Conversation suggests a play-based approach to learning can “involve both child-initiated and teacher-supported learning,” and hinges on the philosophy that an activity in which a child would already be motivated to engage, like playing with blocks, can be an opportunity to commit concepts to memory and practice problem solving.

Technology in Childcare

The smart phone has introduced to caregivers a number of ways to keep in touch with parents on a daily basis. Text messaging and sharing photos and videos offers an opportunity for basic check-ins as well as communicating daily progress and lessons.

Taking periodic photos and texting or emailing them to parents is a simple way to communicate a child’s wellness, and streaming video from a classroom or in-home education session allows parents to watch while their children learn and grow.

In addition, regular blog posts or newsletters provide roundups of milestones, event schedules, child progress, childcare options and general information.

Safety

While positive references and referrals are still the most reliable way to screen a caregiver or care center, background checks have become a regular occurrence in the childcare industry.

Online portals that link parents to nannies and agencies now recommend and even offer background checks, so families can be sure a caregiver has a history of professional and trustworthy behavior. An article on sittercity.com offers four reasons a background check can help a caregiver find a job, and the site offers three types of background checks: a basic check, an enhanced check and a motor vehicle records check.

Once a nanny or program is chosen, remote monitoring allows parents to peek in and make sure their children are receiving quality, compassionate care.

The Internet

The advent of the Web is old news, and the pervasive effect online presence has had on industry is nothing new either. But the wealth of information provided by the Internet and the resonance that has on businesses of all types continues to evolve.

Websites like sittercity.com allow parents to search for caregivers by entering their Zip code, read client reviews and resumes, compare different types of providers, and select professionals based on experience with particular circumstances such as working in multiple-child households and caring for special needs children. Sittercity’s partnering site, nanny.com, acts as an industry-specific publication, generating articles on childcare as new information is presented by reputable childcare organizations, publications and academic institutions.

More Options

There is no one way for families to get support in caring for children. In fact, the number of options available to parents continues to increase.

Nannies, in-home providers and care centers are still popular and generally available prospects, but drop-in care—quality centers that do not require an appointment—and co-ops—where parents watch one another’s children on a revolving schedule—are becoming more widely accessible. Some communities even have “parent nights out” during which reliable care is available at local schools, churches, gyms and recreation centers.

The most significant aspect of this broadening of care options is that families can now utilize different modes of care for various ages and scenarios, such as whether a child is in school or on summer or holiday vacation and whether a child is engaged in after school activities or has down time when class lets out.

And the biggest takeaway from these new trends in childcare is that the movements are overlapping in a way that helps families find the best possible care for their children.

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