Scientific research shows that from birth to age three are the most vital years in a child’s development. Those early years shape the architecture of the brain, including social, cognitive, and emotional abilities that will last a lifetime. So getting your child into a high-quality learning environment from the start isn’t just smart—it’s critical.
But with Fort Worth’s burgeoning population, finding quality and affordable childcare for your infant or toddler is tough, explains Todd Landry, executive director of Lena Pope, a Fort Worth-based nonprofit that provides counseling, childcare, and education to families across North Texas. Landry says there are three things parents should look for when visiting potential schools. First is the teacher’s educational background. Research shows that degreed teachers (those with bachelor’s degrees or higher) yield better benefits for children under their care. Second is the child to teacher ratio—that means the number of kids in class for every teacher. Not surprisingly, with lower ratios, each child gets more attention and the program is better overall. A ratio of 1:4 for infants and 1:8 for toddlers is preferable, says Landry, producing more successful results and brighter futures. Third is a research-based curriculum and the interaction between kids and their caregivers. When teachers use warm and positive language with students, there’s a good chance that your child will receive that same type of loving attention. Love in the classroom (and loving your job as a teacher) goes a long way in creating the nurturing environment that every parent wants for their child. To compete with the high demand for quality childcare in the area, parents should visit multiple schools and get on waiting lists immediately.