When is the Best Age to Start Daycare?

 In Ask the Expert, Family Time Tips & Tools, Infants, Pre-K, Preschool, Toddlers

For parents and family members, deciding what age to start daycare for your child can be just as difficult as deciding which daycare center they should attend.

There is no right answer for deciding when to enroll your child. Every family and child is different, but enrolling your child in daycare is one of the best things you can do for them. We encourage you to consider the following when deciding when to enroll your young children in high-quality early learning environments.

Work Schedule

Whether your maternity or paternity leave is running out or you’re interested in rejoining the workforce after being a stay-at-home parent, a family’s work schedule is the first item to consider.

Less than three percent of parents in the U.S. are full-time, stay-at-home parents making it a reality that you will likely have to send your little one to a child care at some point. If you know you will be returning to work after having a child or anticipate a change in your work schedule in the future, be sure to do your research on local child care options early.

Price

It’s no secret that the cost of child care can be a barrier for families. The average cost of child care in the U.S. is more than $14,000 per year and has risen significantly since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you need child care to accommodate your family’s schedule, be sure the cost won’t have a significant negative impact on your family’s financial security. Consider having a family member or friend watch your child until they become more independent allowing you to save up for a high-quality program in the future.

Many states offer various voucher and scholarship options for families that need assistance to access child care. Some programs even have their own assistance programs.

Day Early Learning, for example, offers a unique Tuition Assistance Program (TAP) to its families. Qualification for these scholarships is based on family size and income. These scholarships are funded by the contributions of generous supporters, including the United Way of Central Indiana, corporations, foundations and individuals in our community.

Age

During a child’s first 18 months, a stable routine is important to a young child’s development. During this stage, infants need to be fed, changed and nap on a consistent routine. An early care and education program can help maintain that regular schedule in a safe environment.

As a child moves into the toddler and preschool age, they are becoming more independent. They are able to walk on their own and will eventually be able to use familiar words or even sentences. At this stage, stimulating activity is important to a young child’s development and allows them to express themselves based on observation. Some parents who work from home or have younger kids to care for can enroll their toddler or preschooler in an early care program to ensure they receive developmentally appropriate activities to enjoy.

Below is an example of a daily routine in one of our Day Early Learning classrooms. During “group activities” and “learning centers,” children will be given age-appropriate and hands-on activities along with one-on-one instruction. Your child’s teacher will post their specific weekly schedules outside the door to the classroom.

Daily Routine

TimeActivity
7 a.m.Learning Centers
7:30 a.m.Breakfast
8:30 – 9 a.m.Learning Centers
9 – 9:30 a.m.Morning Snack
9:45 – 10:30 a.m.Learning Centers
10:30 – 11 a.m.Outside Time
11 – 11:30 a.m.Group Story Time or Songs
11:30 a.m.Lunch
12:30 – 2:30 p.m.Nap or Quiet Time
2:30 p.m.Afternoon Snack
3:30 – 4 p.m.Learning Centers
4 – 4:30 p.m.Outside Time
4:30 p.m.Learning Centers and Clean Up

Day Early Learning is passionate about providing the best child care option for central Indiana families. We have classrooms for five different age groups to ensure every child is able to experience a specialized learning environment to fit their development stage.

baby toddler playing  wooden toys at home or nursery

Infant

Little kids playing toys at learning center

One-Year-Olds

Beautiful toddler boy sitting on puzzle playing meals with plastic plates, fruits and vegetables at kindergarten

Two-Year-Olds

Time to make some music.

Preschool

Cute adorable African girl using watering can water vegetable in garden with help from teacher or mother. Learning by doing, nature study for toddler.

Pre-K

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