When Mike Schultz was in need of a new childcare facility for his two-year-old daughter, Kyla, and four-month-old son, Owen, he was specifically interested in finding a place that would stimulate his daughter's love of learning yet be sensitive to her demeanor. "She's not shy, but a bit introverted in that she often prefers to play by herself or in more structured teacher-led activities. She isn't as interested in free-play with other kids, but she isn't adverse to it, either," says Schultz. He was successful in finding a center that had a director who would help his children grow as unique individuals. "They weren't just numbers receiving blanket care," he says.
According to Leslie Coleman, an Educational Specialist with Kiddie Academy International, Inc. in Bel Air, Maryland, quality childcare facilities should be aware of different temperament types and do their best to accommodate each child accordingly. "This is accomplished through curriculum and programming," Coleman explains. "We encourage small group activities as well as 'center-based teaching' where children have an opportunity to explore a particular theme in many different ways. Children who have free choice during their day can reduce many of the problems associated with large group settings for young children. Parents should look for programs that promote social interaction and give children a chance to explore their emotions in a way that is not demeaning or disrespectful."
Dealing with Temperament
A good way to find out how daycare providers deal with different temperaments is to take a tour of the facility. During your visit, observe whether teachers acknowledge the children's feelings and provide them with tools to manage their emotions. Parents should look for signs that children are free to express themselves and see that teachers work with the children to guide them through their emotions in a respectful and accepting way. "Children should always feel free to express emotion, and at no time should they be punished for expressing themselves," Coleman stresses. "This sends a very clear message to the child that their feelings are important and never a cause for punishment."
Bonding with Your Childcare Provider
Finally, it is important for a daycare facility to work with the parents to make sure that the child has a successful experience no matter what type of temperament he has. To forge a bond between the teachers, parents and children, Ashley Murphree, owner of Carpe Diem Private Preschool in Richardson, Texas, has parents fill out a form called "Help Us Know Your Child." One section of the questionnaire specifically addresses the child's temperament. "This is important because parents and children should feel completely comfortable and accepted in the school environment," says Murphree. "The importance of frequent, open, two-way, collaborative communication between parents and families can't be emphasized enough."
Although it might take some time to find a childcare facility that fits your child's needs, it can be accomplished. The key is to visit several different facilities, talk with parents who already have their children in daycare, and speak openly and honestly about your concerns with day care directors and staff. Before you know it, you'll find a match for your child's specific personality.