What Child Care Options are Available in Phoenix?
Child care is available for all ages, from six weeks of age on up. Parents have a variety of choices. One is to place their child in a traditional child care institutional setting. Here qualified teachers will care for their children in an age appropriate setting, with a reasonable staff to child ratio. Such facilities maintain a classroom setting and structured daily schedule very close to what the child will encounter when entering Kindergarten.
An institutional style pre-school is also available, solely for children of preschool age (three and four year olds). There are two types, traditional and Montessori. In a traditional setting, the focus is on preparing the child to enter school, and the situation is very much like Kindergarten will be. The children follow a schedule, and begin basic work on pre-reading and math skills. Much of this is done in a manner similar to that of a classroom, with much of the learning done on paper, and generally one or two adults to fourteen or fifteen children.
Montessori schools are a bit different. Classes are generally smaller in size, and the focus shifts a bit from the norm to a more hands-on approach; children learn school skills in much the same way they learned in their toddler years. Classrooms are divided into activity areas, and the children move in small groups from center to center completing small tasks. For example, children learn to count and add not by looking at numbers on paper, but by being given a bowl of beans and spooning them from one cup to another as they count. Felt boards or letter peg games are used to teach spelling, and generally there are plants and/or animals in the rooms to teach the children how other species live and grow.
For those who don't choose to place their children in an institutional setting, several in-home daycares are available. These are people who have elected to open their homes to children, making them part of their daily life and placing them in a setting very close to what they would have in their own home. Costs for these daycares are often lower than those of institutions, and there are often a fewer number of children present; however, unless they specify otherwise, one person is usually responsible for a large range in age, from infant on up. These will often offer before and after school care as well.
Should a parent prefer to have their child(ren) cared for in their own home, they are given the option of either hiring a nanny (think Mary Poppins) or an au pair. A nanny may be hired either independently or through an agency, and may live in the home or commute from their own home daily. They are, in essence, a contracted baby-sitter, and costs for these are usually higher than an institution. An au pair is a student, generally from another country, who comes to live with a host family while attending school. They are given room and board and a small allowance in exchange for a set number of hours of childcare a week, as well as assistance with housework and other chores. In home care is more expensive than out of home; however, the benefits to the child are innumerable.
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