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What to Look for in an Early Learning Center

— March 25, 2024

By carefully evaluating the curriculum, staff, safety measures, learning environment, and overall philosophy, you can ensure your child receives a nurturing and enriching educational experience.

As a parent, your child’s early education is one of the most significant investments you’ll ever make. It lays the foundation for their future success, shaping their cognitive abilities, social skills, and character development. 

However, the abundance of available options can overwhelm the selection of the ideal learning environment. A thoughtfully chosen early learning center can provide the perfect setting for your little one to blossom. 

Read on to learn key factors ensuring the center aligns with your values and offers a nurturing, inclusive environment for your child’s development.

  1. Curriculum and Approach

Look for centers with a well-designed plan of activities and lessons that meet the learning needs of young children at different ages and stages. The curriculum should combine playtime with more structured teaching. 

Both free play and guided instruction are important for children’s creativity, problem-solving skills, and social-emotional growth. Ask about how the center teaches early reading, math, and other key subjects in a suitable way for young children.

  1. Stimulating Learning Environment

The center should foster an environment that inspires kids to explore and learn through hands-on discovery. Look for age-appropriate toys, books, art materials, and outdoor play equipment that promote learning through play. The layout and design of classrooms and play areas should be inviting and encourage hands-on activities. 

Explore our Belmore location for a prime example of a stimulating learning environment with a dedicated art studio, interactive science center, and a nature-inspired outdoor playground.

  1. Qualified and Caring Staff

The teachers and caregivers at the center will significantly impact on your child’s experience. Ensure they have proper training and education in early childhood development and experience working with young children. 

Observe how the staff interacts with the children—do they seem patient, nurturing, and engaged? There should be enough staff members for each child to receive proper attention and care.

  1. Safety and Cleanliness

Safety must be the number one priority. Check that the center has secure entry systems, childproof facilities, and plans for emergencies like fires or lockdowns. The staff must be knowledgeable about first aid and CPR to keep kids safe. 

Cleanliness is also vital for preventing illness. The center should follow strict cleaning routines, especially in high-traffic areas like bathrooms and dining spaces.

  1. Parental Involvement and Communication

Parents and teachers need to work together for a child’s development. Choose a center that makes an effort to keep parents informed and involved. This could include regular updates, meetings, newsletters, and events where parents can volunteer or participate. Open communication between families and the learning center helps everyone stay on the same page.

  1. Inclusive and Diverse Environment

The center should welcome and respect children from all backgrounds, cultures, and abilities. Look for diversity in the books, materials, and lessons. Staff should be trained to understand and support children with different needs. An inclusive setting helps children learn about and appreciate differences early on.

  1. Accreditation and Licensing

Ensure relevant state or local authorities properly license the center. Accreditation from reputable organizations indicates that the center meets high professional standards for early childhood education programs.

  1. Nutritious Meals and Snacks

    Child taking strawberry off of kitchen counter; image by Kelly Sikkema, via
    Child taking strawberry off of kitchen counter; image by Kelly Sikkema, via

Proper nutrition is essential for children’s health, growth, and learning ability. The center should provide well-balanced, nutritious meals and snacks made from fresh, high-quality ingredients. It should also be able to accommodate any dietary restrictions, especially if your child has food allergies.

  1. Continuity of Care

Children thrive on routine and familiarity. Consider centers that allow children to remain enrolled for an extended period or have a structured transition process between age groups. This helps provide a stable, consistent environment where children can build trusting relationships with teachers and peers.

  1. Community and Parent Reviews

Seek insights from parents who’ve experienced potential daycare. Read reviews to gauge their reputation, strengths, and disadvantages. Feedback from the community offers valuable perspectives on centers’ strengths and areas needing improvement.

Tips for Searching for a Learning Center

Here are essential tips to guide your search and ensure a nurturing environment for your child’s growth and development.

  • Visit the Learning Center. Schedule a tour and observe the center during operational hours. Pay attention to the atmosphere, interactions between staff and children, and the learning environment.
  • Evaluate the Facilities. Assess the facilities’ cleanliness, maintenance, and age-appropriateness, including classrooms, playgrounds, and restrooms.
  • Check for Extracurricular Activities. Inquire about additional enrichment programs, such as music, art, language classes, and other outdoor activities that may foster your child’s interests and talents.
  • Discuss Special Needs Accommodations. If your child has any special needs or requirements, ensure the center is equipped to provide the necessary support and accommodation.
  • Evaluate the Center’s Philosophy. Ensure the center’s educational philosophy aligns with your values and beliefs regarding early childhood education.
  • Consider Convenience and Location. Factor in the center’s proximity to your home or workplace, as well as its operating hours and schedule flexibility.


Choosing the right early learning center is a significant investment in your child’s future. By carefully evaluating the curriculum, staff, safety measures, learning environment, and overall philosophy, you can ensure your child receives a nurturing and enriching educational experience. Open communication and collaboration with the center’s staff are vital to fostering your child’s growth and development.

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