Early childhood education is a terrific way to help your child develop social, analytical, and communication skills in a fun environment. With a rising need for childcare assistance during school hours and beyond, there has been a surge in early childhood education programs. However, not all programs are created equally. The safety and development of your child rely on their enrollment in a program that can be tailored to your child’s unique needs. Here are twelve things to consider when choosing early childhood education in St. Louis for your little one.

1. Curriculum 

A good curriculum lays the foundation for a child’s academic success and overall development. The curriculum must strike a delicate balance between academic learning and play, cognitive and emotional growth, individual attention and group interaction, and structured activities that invoke free exploration.

Finding that balance can be challenging for some programs, which is why The J in St. Louis uses the “Whole Child Approach” in their curriculum. This approach recognizes that each child is unique and learns in different ways. The focus is not just on academics but on nurturing all aspects of a child’s development – cognitive, physical, social, and emotional.

In a Whole Child Approach, children are encouraged to interact with the world around them, engage in hands-on activities, and learn at their own pace. This helps in fostering creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills. It also promotes a love for learning, builds self-esteem, and enhances social skills.

This approach helps children become well-rounded individuals who are better equipped to handle real-life situations. They learn to be independent, resilient, empathetic, and socially adept. Moreover, since the learning is child-led and based on their interests, it makes the learning process more enjoyable and meaningful for them.

2. Accreditation 

Accreditation in early childhood education means an independent body has thoroughly scrutinized a program or institution to confirm it meets high standards in vital areas, such as teaching methods, curriculum, and facilities.

Learning concepts and tools are always evolving and an accredited program is an indicator that its developers and educators are committed to excellence and continuous improvement. 

To keep an accreditation, programs must consistently demonstrate they’re maintaining, if not exceeding, high standards by continuously updating their curriculums. The J in St. Louis offers fully-accredited programs dedicated to providing outstanding early childhood education.

3. Teacher-to-Child Ratios

Proper teacher-to-child ratios in early childhood education are crucial for providing quality care and education to a child. Teachers with fewer children can provide more individualized attention. 

Through “Whole Child Education,” the J finds the perfect balance between education, downtime, and play. Most of our highly-qualified teachers have earned degrees in Early Childhood Education or related fields. On average, they have over 12 years of classroom experience.

4. Open Communication with Parents

Effective communication between parents and early childhood educators creates a bridge between a young child’s home and educational environment, fostering a consistent approach to their development. 

Parents and educators share information about the child’s behavior, social skills, and learning progress. Together, they can help determine the child’s needs and help hone their strengths. 

We understand that parents need to reach out wherever they are, and whenever it’s convenient. That’s why the J uses LifeCubby to communicate with parents. LifeCubby is a comprehensive, user-friendly childcare management software designed to streamline operations and improve communication between childcare centers and families. 

The portal includes daily care sheets, lesson plans, daily reports, and more. Parents are encouraged to offer feedback on the current curriculum and their child’s development so that our teachers can meet their needs best. 

5. Wide Variety of Programs

At such a young age, it is hard to tell what a young child’s interests and strengths are. A well-rounded child is developed out of well-rounded experiences. The most effective early childhood education program in St. Louis will introduce your child to a variety of concepts and activities so that they can explore their interests freely. 

The J’s fully-accredited programs offer children the opportunity to discover who they are and where their talents lie. We offer many Enrichment Classes, including Tippi Toes Dance Company® Ballet, Tap & Jazz Combo Class, Letter Engineers, Reading Rock Stars, Jr. Jaws Swim Club, and more. There’s something for everyone at the J!

6. Healthy Meals and Snacks

Healthy food plays a crucial role in early childhood education programs. Providing nutritious meals and snacks throughout the day contributes significantly to children’s overall well-being, growth, and cognitive development.

Firstly, healthy food provides the necessary nutrients that children need for their physical development. Nutrients like proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals support the growth of bones and muscles, strengthen the immune system, and foster overall health. A well-nourished child is more likely to be active and engage fully in learning experiences.

Secondly, good nutrition also has a significant impact on a child’s cognitive development. Research shows that certain nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, are essential for brain development. Children who eat nutritious food are more likely to have better concentration, memory, and cognitive skills, leading to improved academic performance.

The J provides nutritious meals and snacks to your child throughout their time with us. Our menu is always rotating to ensure your child gets a variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein. 

7. Flexibility in Schedules and Offerings

Anything can happen, especially in the life of a parent. Flexibility in scheduling is very important in early childhood education settings because it acknowledges and accommodates the diverse needs of modern families. 

Parents often juggle multiple responsibilities, such as work commitments and family obligations, among other personal activities. By offering flexible scheduling options, early childhood education programs can better serve families, which makes life easier for children and parents alike. 

The J provides flexible scheduling opportunities for children. Both full-time and part-time enrollment are eligible. Plus, you can always count on us in a pinch with the J’s KidZone Babysitting.

8.  Immaculate Safety and Hygiene Precautions 

Safety and hygiene precautions are paramount in early childhood education centers because young children are still developing their immune systems. Their bodies are more susceptible to infections and illnesses. Plus, they can become carriers for bringing illness to your home.  

Maintaining high standards of cleanliness can help prevent the spread of germs and diseases, keeping children healthy and reducing absences due to sickness. Additionally, safety measures prevent accidents and injuries, ensuring a secure environment where children can explore, play, and learn without undue risk.

Our fully-accredited programs have been verified to follow all safety and hygiene protocols to the highest standards. You can feel confident in the health and wellness of your child when they’re hanging out at the J!

9. Affordability

Access to early childhood education is important for all children, regardless of family income. It ensures equal opportunity for learning and development, helping to bridge the achievement gap that can arise from socioeconomic disparities. 

We are all one community. It is important to the J that our services are available for all members of the St. Louis area. 

The J accepts financial assistance for those with a proven need for help. In addition, we offer payment plans and do have some scholarships available. 

10. Inclusivity 

Every child has the right to an education and participation in a learning environment. Fostering an inclusive environment helps children develop positive self-images and respect for others among all children. 

Through inclusivity, people learn to appreciate differences and understand that everyone has unique strengths and abilities. This kind of exposure can lead to empathy and acceptance, essential values for personal and social development.

Also, research has shown that inclusive classrooms often provide an enriching learning experience for all students. Children can learn and grow from each other. 

The J does not discriminate. We welcome families and children from all walks of life, regardless of how they look or identify. 

11. A Community Feel

Raising a child is a blessing, but it is not easy. We are all in this together. That is why we have a program for expecting and new mothers called Imanu, or Our Mothers.Imanu provides in-person and virtual services to moms-to-be and moms-in-need. This program is overseen by Leah Frankel, a licensed Clinical Social Worker and Certified Lactation Counselor. It provides services that can provide support on childbirth, breastfeeding, mental health, and more. 

12. Reputation in the St. Louis Community 

The J has served St. Louis families since 1880. It brings us joy to see generations of families grow up in our community and then bring their own children to our programs and events

That is how we preserve the integrity of St. Louis values while providing a world full of opportunities for the children of the future. The J is long-rooted in St. Louis’ history and will be for generations to come!