Frequently Asked Questions
Lifesteps staff has developed a list of Frequently Asked Questions for Children. If you have a question that you would like to have answered, please contact us.
According to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission, nearly 85% of the foundation of children’s communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills are developed by the age of five. These skills lay the foundation for a child’s future ability to do well in school, in the workforce, and in life. Children learn best when they have proper health and nutrition, a safe and stable home life, and activities that stimulate creativity and curiosity.
Attending a high quality early learning program can provide enriching experiences that will prepare them to enter school ready to learn and achieve. To find out more about early learning programs in your area, visit www.papromiseforchildren.com.
Child care is a service in which a child is cared for by someone other than the child’s parent or caregiver. This can be offered by a family provider or at a center. Child care is offered full and part time. According to the Department of Public Welfare, children can enter a child care program at the age of six weeks.
Preschool is typically for children 3-5 years old. Preschool provides a structured “school” experience prior to entering kindergarten. Typically a day of preschool may be two or three hours long. As part of the child care program at Lifesteps, children age 3-5 are provided an integrated preschool program at no additional cost.
Many preschools enroll children beginning at age three or when the child is potty-trained. Preschools typically run on a school year schedule, so planning ahead is helpful for decision-making. Begin calling preschools in the spring/summer of the year prior to when you want your child to attend preschool.
Tour the preschool and meet the teachers before the class starts. Make sure that you ask questions that will help you make the best choice for your child.
You should find a clean, safe facility with a good reputation. Consider the hours of operation and the schedule flexibility, as well as the staff retention and qualifications. Ask about opportunities for family involvement and about the program or curriculum. Finally, look for an accreditation such as Keystone STARS.
Keystone STARS, a voluntary Pennsylvania State quality initiative, rates child care centers with research-based performance standards. Participating facilities can work to achieve up to a 4 star level. STARS levels 1 through 4 are based on staff professional development, quality of educational programming, and a safe, nurturing physical environment.
When looking for a quality child care program, parents should inquire about staff-to-child ratios. Look for a good staff-to-child ratio, the number of staff required based on the number of children present. This ratio is important to maintain the safety and well-being of the children in the child care setting.
The Department of Public Welfare requires the following: 1 staff member for every 4 infants; 1 staff member for every 5 young toddlers; 1 staff member for every 6 older toddlers; and 1 staff member for every 10 preschool aged children.
Families often prepare children by practicing academic skills, such as letters, numbers, colors, and shapes, but may not have a plan to prepare them for the new routines, places, and people that will soon be part of their lives.
Starting to talk about school a year in advance can help. Visit the school and meet the staff. Read books about kindergarten, pretend, and think about questions that may concern the child, such as “Where will Mommy be while I am at school?” Let the child know you think school will be a wonderful experience – even if you have to hide your own tears for a while.
Separation is a developmental challenge that many children face when they transition to a new environment. Children can even have a delayed response that some teachers call “second week-itis”. Parents can help by taking the child’s feelings seriously and helping them learn ways to cope.
When possible, visit the program in advance to become familiar with the people, places, and things that will be part of their new routine. Keep a calendar of activities on hand so you ask questions that reinforce the fun things planned for each day. Many children also find comfort in bringing a small piece of home with them, even a family picture!
Parents can build trust by developing a good-bye ritual such as a hug or high-five, and always being honest about when they will be back. Partner with classroom staff to comfort your child so you can say good-bye and then leave quickly.
Prolonged goodbyes usually only makes things harder. Most parents will find that their child adjusts shortly after they leave and will soon be disappointed when it is time to go home.