Outdoor Or Tech Time? The Questions To Ask Before You Choose A Daycare

Is this your first daycare search? You may have a list of questions prepped and ready to go. Even though staff-to-child ratios and the qualifications of the educators are at the top of your list, these aren't the only topics to address. Take a look at the not-so-obvious outdoor play and tech-time questions to ask toddler child care services.

How Much Time You Spend Outside?

Outdoor activities provide the young child with chances to learn and grow across multiple developmental areas. Weather permitting, time spent outdoors can help toddlers to:

  • Build gross motor skills. By three years, a child may climb and run well, ride a tricycle, and walk up and down stairs, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Outdoor activities can promote these skills and help your toddler to develop balance, coordination, and strength.
  • Explore scientific concepts. Outdoor activities also give toddlers the chance to explore nature and learn about the environment. This means your child will get to experience science in a hands-on way.
  • Develop social skills. Group outdoor activities help toddlers to build crucial social skills, such as sharing, listening, and taking turns.

The specific amount of time children spend outside depends on several factors. These include the weather/season, the school's schedule, and applicable regulations. Ask the school's staff if outdoor play is a priority and how many play periods they offer each day.

How Do You Address Technology?

You don't expect your toddler to stare at a screen all day. But this doesn't mean that technology isn't a part of the child care center day. Like science and math, technology is part of an emerging set of skills your child may need to eventually enter the workforce.

As part of early STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education, some centers integrate computers or other tech-time into the toddler's day. To better understand if, how, and when your child will use technology, ask:

  • Do you limit screen time? Ask about firm limits on screen time and how these are enforced. This can help you to better understand when your child will interact with screens and make sure the center doesn't prioritize screens over social interactions or other hands-on learning experiences.
  • Do you only use educational programs? Preschool is not the time to watch TV. Classroom tech-time should focus on educational programs, software, or apps.
  • How do you integrate technology into the day? Technology is part of daily for many children. Ask the educator how they help children to understand the practical applications and ways technology can help in other areas

Along with these questions, talk to the center's staff about other tech-time concerns you may have. This could include questions about specific software, types of content, or ways the teacher uses screens to teach other content areas.

For more information about daycare, contact a local facility.